6360 Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90028 | map |
The News: Will there be a 2022 reopening for the Dome? The gossip is swirling. Deadline
says despite an application for a liquor license transfer to a
Decurion-owned entity called "DT Operator LLC" there are NO imminent
plans to reopen but refurbishment of the complex is in the planning
stages. Anthony D'Alessandro and Patrick Hipes discussed the venue in their December 17, 2021 story "Cinerama Dome Isn't Planning to Re-open Imminently; Here's What's Really Going On." They note that the complex grossed over $15 million in 2019.
Although the Hollywood Reporter asserted that "studio distribution sources" confirmed an impending reopening, Deadline says there are no talks ongoing with distributors. And when it does reopen it'll be the whole complex. As many have noted previously, the Dome can't be operated profitably as a single screen entity. Rebecca Keegan and Pamela McClintock had the Hollywood Reporter version of the news in "Hollywood's Cinerama Dome Plans to Reopen in 2022," also a December 17 story.
Website: www.arclightcinemas.com - now with just their farewell statement.
Phone: 323-464-1478 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Searchlights are in the sky over Hollywood for the opening of the Dome. It's a Hollywood Citizen - News photo by Peter Banks. Noirish Los Angeles contributor Ethereal Reality spotted it on eBay and has all the data on his Noirish post #7127. It's also been seen on the Facebook pages Vintage Los Angeles and Photos of Los Angeles.
Seating: 937 originally, 856 at present.
Owners: The Dome was a project of Pacific Theatres, Inc, a company that was
started by William Forman in 1946 and, in its early years, was largely a
drive-in operator. Saul Pick was the developer working with Pacific on
the Dome project. By December 1963 Pacific had also become the owner of Cinerama, Inc., a firm that once had been controlled by Stanley-Warner Theatres. In 1968 Pacific acquired the southern California and Texas assets of that chain, including the other Cinerama venue in Hollywood, the Warner. In 1970 Pacific picked up the remaining 133 theatres of the combined RKO and Stanley Warner chains. After the founder's death, Pacific was operated by his son
Michael. Later, the Pacific Theatres and ArcLight brands, as well as
the real estate arm Robertson Properties, were rolled into a holding
company called Decurion Corporation, headed by Christopher Forman, William Forman's grandson.
Architect: Welton Becket and Associates. Pierre Cabrol was the firm's lead architect on the project. The Cinerama Dome was the first concrete geodesic dome constructed. It was built in 16 weeks! It's composed of 316 pre-cast concrete panels, most of which are hexagonal, each weighing approximately 3,200 lbs.
A 1960 Herald Examiner photo of Becket with images and drawings of another of his many projects, the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. He was also responsible for the Capitol Records Building and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The photo is in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.
A Los Angeles Public Library photo by Howard D. Kelly looking east on August 5, 1963. It's one of many aerial construction views in their collection. The 18 story highrise beyond the theatre is the 1963 Sunset Vine Tower, the first such building to be constructed after the city repealed the 13 story height limit. It was designed by Douglas Honnold of the firm Honnold & Rex.
Another construction view looking north across the site of the Dome. That's Sunset Blvd. running left to right in front of the theatre. The RCA Building is rising across Sunset just to the left of the theatre. It's a Howard D. Kelly photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. More 1963 aerial views: a similar shot in b&w | looking northeast - b&w | looking northwest - b&w | looking east - color | looking northeast - color |
Another 1963 progress shot. The photo from the John Sittig collection appears in the Cinerama Photo Gallery on the site In70mm.com. Also on the site see John's fine 2018 article "Pacific's Cinerama Dome...Where Movie-going is an Event." The photo also appears on the From Script To DVD Cinerama Dome page.
Photos of the opening that appeared in the November 18, 1963 issue of Boxoffice. Thanks to Roland Lataille for reproducing the item on the Cinerama Dome page of his fine site InCinerama.com.
If you didn't want to buy a souvenir program for the show you saw at the Dome, you could always take home a book of matches. Thanks to Mark Ortiz for posting this matchbook shot on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page.
The Dome was declared a City of Los Angeles Cultural-Historic Monument in 1998 after Pacific Theatres threatened demolition as part of their planning for a new theatre new complex. Doug Haines commented in a letter that appeared in the L.A. Times on April 20, 2021:
"In the late 1990s, I nominated the Cinerama Dome as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in response to owner Pacific Theatres' proposal to gut the Hollywood landmark. The charade that followed had little to do with historic preservation and much to do with politics. Pacific Theatres was allowed to pick and choose what it wanted to destroy and what should be landmarked. So, the geodesic dome is a landmark, while the supporting ring is not (because Pacific wanted to put an escalator through it). The lobby isn't landmarked, because Pacific wanted to convert it into a Koo Koo Roo restaurant (remember them?).
"What saved the dome was the threat of litigation by preservation group Hollywood Heritage, and Pacific Theatres' desire for a free $45 million parking garage courtesy of the Community Redevelopment Agency. As a result, the theatre was saved through a settlement agreement and covenant. I wish I could say that the fight for historic preservation in Los Angeles has improved since then, but it sadly has gotten only far worse."
After a two year closure and a refurbishment, the Dome reopened in 2002 along with the new ArcLight Cinemas complex that wraps around it. Attending the dome still feels like an event. Digital projection is used for regular runs but film equipment is in place for special showings.
The 2020 shutdown: The theatre closed in March 2020 due to Covid restrictions. On April 12, 2021 the Decurion Corporation decided not to reopen any of its theatres using the Pacific Theatres and ArcLight brands. Their Vineland Drive-In was operating at the time but none of the indoor locations had tried reopening as pandemic restrictions were easing. 300 screens were involved. While Pacific/Decurion owns the land under the Dome, they evidently lease the property under the adjoining ArcLight complex. Pamela McClintock had the sad news in "Arclight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres to Close," an April 12, 2021 story for The Hollywood Reporter. Also see stories from Deadline, the L.A. Times and Variety. A Decurion statement noted:
"This was not the outcome anyone wanted, but despite a huge effort that exhausted all potential options, the company does not have a viable way forward... To our guests and members of the film industry who have made going to the movies such a magical experience over the years: our deepest thanks. It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve you."
Tom Nunan had a nice April 13 story for Forbes: "Iconic Movie Chain Closes In Los Angeles; 5 Predictions For Future Of Cinemas Nationwide." Variety asked "...Who Will Rescue the Cinerama Dome?" in an April 13 followup story. They mention the "outpouring of grief" on social media and note one fan left a floral bouquet at the theatre as a tribute. The article discussed the Pacific Theatres owners, the Forman family, and outlines several possibilities.
Jessica Gelt had an April 14 story for the Times titled "Could a developer demolish the Cinerama Dome? Yes, but here's what would have to happen first..." The print edition ran the story with a happier headline: "Reasons to expect a happy ending." Mark Olsen and Jen Yamato compiled the Another April 14 story for the Times titled "'I can't imagine Hollywood without the ArcLight.' Filmmakers explain why the loss matters." Variety continued the tributes with Pat Saperstein's April 14 story "The Cinerama Dome: A Landmark of Hollywood History in Photos." Ryan Faughnder's April 16 story for the times asked "After ArcLight Cinemas' closure, what happens next?"
Patt Morrison offers a nice album of vintage theatre postcards and muses about the fate of various L.A. theatres over the last 100+ years in "Financial ruin. Possible destruction. What will be the Cinerama's Hollywood ending?," an April 20, 2021 L.A. Times article. Thanks to Donavan S. Moye and Jonathan Raines for spotting the story. "ArcLight and Cinerama Dome: Potential Suitors Line Up" was a May 5 story by Pamela McClintock in The Hollywood Reporter. In the text she called it the "Cinemara Dome." And it appears that Marcus Theatres was the only one to say publicly "bring it on, we're ready to talk." Thanks to Stephen Russo for spotting the story.
Part of the Forman empire, the Pacific Theatres Exhibition Corporation filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on June 18 so that they could have protection while they liquidated their assets and paid creditors. This company, PTEC, does NOT have a stake in the Cinerama Dome or that ArcLight location -- that's separate and not affected. The plan was to sell off whatever is theirs: seats, projectors, popcorn machines, etc. at both company owned and leased locations. Included was whatever equipment the landlords didn't claim at the leased ArcLight locations in Culver City, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, El Segundo, Pasadena, La Jolla, Chicago, Boston and the D.C. area. Also affected were the Pacific locations (some owned, some leased) in Lakewood, Northridge, Chatsworth (the Winnetka), Sherman Oaks (the 5 plex), City of Industry (Vineland D-I), the Grove, and Glendale (Americana at Brand). Deadline had the story: "Pacific Theatres Files for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy."
In Variety's June 18 story, also titled "Pacific Theatres Files for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy," they noted that creditors, including landlords and film studios, may get little or nothing:
"According to the bankruptcy filings, the six entities that filed for bankruptcy on Friday had $69 million in liabilities, and just $4.8 million in total assets. The only secured debt is a $6.4 million obligation to Bank of America, which means that all the unsecured creditors — including landlords, taxing authorities, former employees, vendors, various litigants, and gift card holders — will likely wind up with little or nothing. The unsecured creditors also include all the major film studios, along with many smaller distributors, who were still owed box office revenue when Pacific’s theaters closed last year. Disney is owed $1.26 million, followed by Warner Bros. ($779,000), Universal ($619,000), Paramount ($501,000), Sony ($389,000) and indie distributor Neon ($231,000). In sum, 25 distributors are owed $4.26 million."
Variety also discussed a transaction between two components of the Decurion Corporation:
"The Decurion Corporation — the parent company of Pacific Theatres — arranged a deal last November in which it kept the right to use the ArcLight and Pacific brand names at the ArcLight Hollywood and the Cinerama Dome — a strong indication that Decurion intends to reopen the location... According to the filing, Decurion paid Pacific Theatres $10.5 million to terminate its lease on the property. Pacific turned around and gave most of the money to Bank of America to pay down debt.
Looking toward the center of the lobby from the house left ramp to the auditorium. The stairs go to the upper crossaisle. Photo: Google Maps - 2012
The house right ramp from the lobby up into the auditorium. Photo: Don Solosan - LAHTF - 2009. The Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation is active in preserving the historic theatres of the Los Angeles area and regularly sponsors events and tours. www.lahtf.org | LAHTF on Facebook
A 1963 photo from house right. Thanks to John Nevik for sharing this one on a post about the Dome on the Friends of 70mm Facebook page.
An early view of the Cinerama Dome interior from an R.L. Grosh ad in the Boxoffice issue of January 6, 1964.
A shot of the theatre still with its original color draperies -- before the change to dark blue. It's one by Lori/Stutefish that was once on Flickr but has vanished from that platform.
A crowd at the Dome before a show. While this view appeared with an In70mm.com article about a 2002 3-strip screening of "This is Cinerama," the color of the draperies let's us know that it's an earlier photo.
Hiroshi Sugimoto's Theater Series resulted from a question he asked: "Suppose you shoot a whole movie in a single frame? And the answer: You get a shining screen. Immediately I sprang into action, experimenting toward realizing this vision." We don't know what film he saw at the Dome in 2003 but this was the result. A number of Mr. Sugimoto's photos of theatre auditoria appear on a Portfolio: Movie Theatres page from C4 Contemporary Art. Also see the Hiroshi Sugimoto page on Artsy.
A fine view of the Dome from "Hollywood High" (Peter Perry Pictures, 1976). Patrick Wright directed the film starring Suzanne Severeid, Sherry Hardin and Rae Sperling. The cinematography was by Jonathan Silveira. Thanks to Eric Schaefer for spotting the theatre in the film and getting the screenshot. He says: "Long live the Dome!"
We're in the parking lot behind the Dome in Wim Wenders film
"The State of Things" (Gray City, 1983). The director of a film that ran out of money while shooting in Portugal comes to
L.A. in search of his missing producer. Patrick Bauchau, Allen Garfield,
Samuel Fuller, Roger Corman and Isabelle Weingarten are among those featured. Henri Alekan was the cinematographer with Fred Murphy doing the L.A. portion. Thanks to Eric Schaefer for the screenshot. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for views of the Nuart and Warner Hollywood from the film.
We look down on the Cinerama Dome in a flyover of Hollywood in Julien Temple's "Earth Girls Are Easy" (Vestron Pictures, 1989). We don't stop as we're headed over the hills to the Valley. In "Earth Girls" we later get a shot of the Studio City Theatre. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for that one.
David Frost (Michael Sheen) and his girlfriend Caroline (Rebecca Hall) go to the Dome in "Frost/Nixon" (Universal, 2009) for the premiere of "The Slipper and the Rose," a 1976 film on which he served as a producer. Thanks to Jonathan Raines for spotting this one. Several more shots from the scene at the Dome are on the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post.
We get to see the Dome in the David Strohmaier Cinerama film "In The Picture" (2012). Leonard Maltin did a blog post about the film and the rest of the "Cinerama at 60" festival. The photo here from his post is of the Dome, as it appeared in three-strip at the Dome itself.
The Dome appears prominently in David Chase's "Not Fade Away" (Paramount Vantage, 2012) as we look west on Sunset in the 60s for a lengthy shot that concludes the film. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for several more shots from the scene.
In "Keanu" (Warner/Fine Line, 2016) We get a look at the Dome after our two stars, Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key, come out of a Liam Neeson movie. On the end panel: "Substitute Teacher." In this film about a lost cat we also see the Palace, Los Angeles and Vine theatres. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for more shots from the film.
Heather Graham plays an aspiring screenwriter in "Half Magic," her debut film as a director (Momentum Pictures, 2018). She and her friends Angela Kinsey and Stephanie Beatriz share their tales of woe about work, sex and other issues in Hollywood. Over the end credits we see that Graham has got a film into the Dome. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for a couple more shots.
The Dome, dressed as if it were running "Krakatoa, East of Java," is seen in Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" (Sony, 2019). It stars Leo DiCaprio and his friend Brad Pitt as an actor and stuntman trying to find work in the business in 1969. The Manson murder case also figures into the plot as the guys live next door to Sharon Tate, played by Margot Robbie. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies pages for ten shots of the shooting at the Dome as well as lots of action at the Earl Carroll, the Vogue, Pussycat/Ritz, Fox Westwood, Bruin, Pantages and Vine theatres.
A five minute documentary about the building of the Dome is on the ArcLight Cinemas channel on YouTube. It features terrific views of the planning, construction and opening along with a discussion about the Cinerama process.
Don't miss the 15 minute 2019 epic "Cinerama Dome Projection Booth Visit Screening 'How the West Was Won.'" It's on You Tube. Also on YouTube are several shorts by Michael Cahill about film
historian Dave Strohmaier shooting new 3 strip Cinerama footage in Los
Angeles: "Cinerama 2012" Part 1 | Part 2
A few more exterior views:
1963 - An Associated Press photo of the opening appearing with the April 2021 Hollywood Reporter story "Hollywood Flashback: Cinerama's Dome Debuted Before It Was Finished."
1963 - A look at the Dome during its grand opening in 1963 from Marc Wanamaker's Hollywood Historic Photos collection. Also check out more theatre photos on the site.
1963 - Thanks to Richard Wojcik on the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles for this great postcard of the opening of the Dome with "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World." Roloff de Jeu on Flickr has a version with "Glamourous Hollywood Premiere" across the top in his great "Cinema Postcards from the Americas" collection. The version Roloff has is also on Card Cow.
1963 - The Dome with its opening attraction on the marquee. Thanks to Alison Martino for the photo on her Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles where it generated lots of comments.
1963 / 1964 - A postcard from the site Card Cow with "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," the theatre's initial attraction, on the marquee.
1963 / 1964 - A "Mad World" card from Alison Martino's collection that put in an appearance on the Mid Century Modern Los Angeles Facebook page. A version of the same card appears on the Card Cow site.
1963 / 1964 - A sparkling view looking east with "Mad World" on the marquee taken by George Mann. Thanks to Alison Martino for posting the photo on Vintage Los Angeles.
1963 / 1964 - A postcard view west on Sunset -- another using a photo taken during the "Mad World" run. It's from the Richard Wojcik collection on Vintage Los Angeles.
1964 - "Rent a new Car $2.50." This nice "Mad World" windshield shot from JMB Productions Archives appears on the blog The Gravenstein. Thanks to Eitan Alexander for spotting it.
1965 - The theatre running "Greatest Story Ever Told." It opened February 18 for a 43 week run. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo. Richard Wojcik has a closer shot of the theatre taken during this engagement on Vintage Los Angeles.
1966 - A view with the Dome running "Battle of the Bulge" in "Super Cinerama." The film opened December 17, 1965 for a 27 week run. Thanks to Richard Wojcik for the post of the photo from his collection on the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles.
1966 - A postcard look east on Sunset Blvd. with a photo taken during the run of "Grand Prix." It's from the Richard Wojcik collection that appeared on the page for the non-public Facebook group Mid Century Modern Los Angeles.
1968 / 1969 - The Dome running "Ice Station Zebra." It opened October 24, 1968 and got a 29 week run. Thanks to Stephen Fleay for the November photo. Alison Martino had grabbed it for a post on the Vintage Los Angeles Facebook page.
1974 - Getting decorated for the run of "Mame." It's a photo from Ken McIntyre on Photos of Los Angeles.
1974 - More prep for the "Mame" premiere. Thanks to Ken McIntyre on Photos of Los Angeles for the shot. It's also been on Vintage Los Angeles.
1974 - A shot of the "Mame" getup taken at the premiere for the film on March 26. Thanks to Kevin Miller on the non-public Facebook group Mid Century Modern Los Angeles for the photo. He notes: "Since it was Easter the film's costume designer, Theodora Van Runkle, designed a gigantic Easter bonnet measuring 550 ft. in circumference to sit a top the dome! Hundreds of guests arrived in vintage cars, wearing 1920s period costumes and Daily Variety columnist Army Archard announced the arrival of each star! Merv Griffin taped his nightly tv talk show from the premiere that night. It was one of Hollywood's biggest & grandest premieres in recent memory."
1975 - "Rollerball" at the Dome. Thanks to John Stewart for his photo, one of fourteen appearing in his Los Angeles Theaters set on Flickr. John is the long-time projectionist at the Austin Paramount. Thanks also to Mike Hume for advising of John's collection.
1977 - The opening of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Thanks to Bill Gabel for the photo, a post on Photos of Los Angeles.
1979 - "Apocalypse Now." Thanks to Richard DuVal for sharing this September photo on a Facebook post. Pancho Ds shared this and two other views Richard took the same day on the Friends of 70mm page. The film opened August 15 in a version with no credits -- you got a program. The Dolby mix included split surrounds. See Michael Coate's article "Still Loving the Smell of Napalm in the Morning..." on the site The Digital Bits.
1981 - A look across Sunset Blvd. during the run of "Zoot Suit." It was an October release. Thanks to Alison Martino for the photo, once on the Mid Century Modern Los Angeles Facebook page. Much of "Zoot Suit" was filmed nearby in the Earl Carroll Theatre. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for a few shots in the theatre from the film.
1983 - John Badham's "War Games" opened June 3. Thanks to Michael Coate for sharing this photo from his collection for a post on the Friends of 70mm Facebook page.
1987 - Looking toward downtown. It's a Paul Chinn photo in the Herald Examiner collection at the Los Angeles Public Library.
1988 - A view in the Los Angeles Public Library collection taken by Chris Gulker during the run of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit."
1998 - "His face is 90 feet wide at the Cinerama Dome." The Associated Press photo taken during the run of "Godzilla" appeared Pat Saperstein's April 2021 Variety story "The Cinerama Dome: A Landmark of Hollywood History in Photos."
2002 - A shot from Film-Tech.com with "This Is Cinerama" on the marquee. It was the first three-strip presentation at the theatre. It's on the site's Cinerama Dome page which you can find by going to pictures and scrolling down to the Cinerama Dome listing under "singles, twins, trios, quads."
2004 - A view of the Dome added by Ken McIntyre to the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page that was taken during during the run of "Shrek 2."
2004 - "Spiderman 2" in July. Thanks to Richard Wojcik for the photo on Vintage Los Angeles.
2009 - The boxoffice windows east of the entrance doors. One now buys tickets inside at the ArcLight boxoffice. Photo: Don Solosan - LAHTF
2009 - The Dome from across the street. Photo: Don Solosan - LAHTF. Thanks for all your great photos, Don!
2013 - A look up at the signage by Alison Martino on her Facebook page Vintage los Angeles. Thanks, Alison!
2013 - The rear of the Cinerama Dome. We're looking north toward Sunset Blvd. At the right is the entrance to the ArcLight lobby. At the left is the portion of the new development containing restaurants and retail. Photo: Bill Counter
2015 - A shot Steven Taylor took in July. He shared it in a post on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page.
2015 - The Dome from above, one of many treats on Ian Wood's 6 minute video "Los Angeles." It includes flyovers of Capitol Records, the Griffith Observatory, City Hall, the canals of Venice, Lake Hollywood and more. Don't miss it!
2017 - Thanks to David Silver for this great January view west across the Dome from 18 floors up. He posted it on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles.
2019 - The beast at night. Thanks to Jorge Garcia for his May photo on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page.
2020 - Looking east toward the theatre on June 1, at this point with the complex boarded up in expectation of protests about police brutality and racial inequality. Thanks to Brad Stubbs for his photo, one of 71 in his "BLM Protest 6-1-20 Hollywood" album on Facebook.
An ad for the theatre's initial film thanks to Michael Coate on In70mm.com, the website devoted to all things 70mm. It's from "It's a Long Long Long Long List," his 2010 article about roadshow engagements for the film.
For projection on Cinerama screens a "rectified" print was produced with no squeeze in the middle and more and more compression closer to the sides of the image to yield a normal looking image on the deeply curved screen. The resultant aspect ratio was evidently less than the full 2.76 to 1. Perhaps 2.55 measured around the curve while, from the back of the house, looking more like 2 to 1.
See the excellent discussion of 70mm Cinerama on Martin Hart's site Widescreen Museum. He notes that the Ultra Panavision films, when shown in Cinerama houses, didn't use an anamorphic but rather lenses ground specifically for the curvature of the screen.
Other 70mm "Cinerama" films were shot in "Super Panavision," a non-anamorphic process like TODD-AO only with lenses by Panavision. Like TODD-AO, the aspect ratio was 2.21 to 1. Many of these films didn't get special prints, even for Cinerama Theatres.
Three Norelco 35/70mm AAII projectors and Ventarc lamps getting readied for the Cinerama's opening. Thanks to Roland Lataille for the photo from a Boxoffice magazine article. It appears on the Cinerama Dome page of his website InCinerama.com.
Inspecting the theatre's original Ampex 6/4/1 sound system. The photos are from the Boxoffice magazine issue of February 10, 1964. See the full article for more details. It's about the role that "sound experts" should play in new theatre construction.
Other early runs at the Dome in a list from Ronald Lataille's InCinerama site. Except for "Camelot," these were advertised as being "in Cinerama":
Another film at the theatre that was promoted as being in Cinerama was "This Is Cinerama." But for this 1973 run it was a 70mm composite print made from the 3 original 35mm negatives. Not until 2002 would the equipment necessary for three-strip presentations be installed. The ad is from Roland Lataille's In Cinerama collection.
The Screen: The current screen size is 86' x 32' encompassing 126 degrees of arc. It's not the original Cinerama louver style but with the size and curvature of the 1963 original. The first (c.1953) Cinerama screens typically had 146 degrees of arc and (unlike the Dome's) did not have a consistent curvature -- they had a sharper radius in the center and got flatter out to the sides.
The original louvered screen at the Dome was removed and replaced with a flat sheet sometime around 1973. It's a white screen, not silver. For the December 2015 "Star Wars" run, their scope format picture was 65' wide.
The L.A. Times ran a 2002 article "Big Screen Furor-Rama..." when the screen was scheduled to be replaced (again) in 2002 after a remodel. The Times also has a few comments about the article. Purists wanted a louvered screen again. Pacific wanted (and ended up putting in) a big screen but as a single sheet -- claiming their massive new sound system would cause the strips to vibrate excessively.
A view of an original style louvered Cinerama screen -- designed to prevent light on the sides of the screen from washing out the picture on the other side. It's from Greg Kimble's great article "This is Cinerama" on the widescreen site In70mm.com.
A typical early Cinerama sound installation using 5 Altec A-2 Voice of the Theatre speaker systems with double 90 degree HF horns for the stage channels. The photo is in Lee Sound Design's Altec photo gallery. It also appears in a 1953 SMPTE paper on speakers and amps for stereo theatre sound that can be viewed on the American Widescreen Museum site. The Cinerama Dome originally had Voice of the Theatre speakers. That's all been replaced with newer JBL equipment with the screen speakers mounted in a THX-style infinite baffle. There are 44 surround speakers, also by JBL. Sound absorbent material was added in each of the ceiling's hexagons.
Digital booth equipment: Except for special presentations, it's been digital projection at the Dome for years. Around 2014 it was two Christie CP 4230 4K projectors and two GDC digital cinema servers. They were using the XPAND process with active glasses for 3D films.They got an upgrade for the December 2015 "Star Wars" release with an installation of the dual head Christie 6P laser projector and the Dolby 3D process. This both upped the light level as well as providing more comfortable 3D glasses than the heavier battery powered active glasses used earlier.
Hollywood Reporter had a story about the new equipment. They quote Joe Miraglia, the ArcLight director of design and construction, as saying the gear cost several hundred thousand dollars. He noted screen brightness was about 8 footlamberts for 3D with a 65' wide scope format picture and 14 footlamberts for 2D. It's unknown if this equipment stayed in the theatre or not. One 2017 presentation viewed was not exceptional in terms of brightness.
Film equipment: The original Norelco projectors were replaced with Century JJ 35/70 machines and a platter system around 1988. There's now a single Kinoton FP75E 35/70mm machine. A 4Kw lamp is typically used for 35mm, a 7.5 Kw lamp for 70mm presentations. For 70mm, both DTS sound timecode synched with the film and 6 channel mag are options. There's Dolby Digital and Dolby analog sound processing for 35mm. "The Master" in 2013 and "Interstellar" in 2014 got 70mm runs. "Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood" ran in 70mm in 2019.
3-Strip at the Dome: In addition to the conventional 35/70 equipment, there's the gear for 3-strip Cinerama presentations using 3 Century/Cinerama projectors fed by platters and the separate full coat 35mm mag dubber for the 7 channel stereophonic sound. Selsyn motors keep the 4 units in synch.
The 3-strip installation only dates from 2002. The original wide, wraparound booth layout was designed for that equipment but by the time of the theatre's opening Cinerama had gone to a 70mm format. The Dome has hosted revival screenings of "How The West Was Won," "This is Cinerama" and other titles. On In70mm.com see the article about the initial three strip presentations at the Dome: "Cinerama Dome 2002."
"This is Cinerama" finally made it to the Dome in the original three-projector process in 2002. Thanks to the site From Script To DVD for the ad -- it's on their Cinerama Dome/ArcLight page.
A left frame (projected from the "Able" booth) from a "This Is Cinerama" scene shot in Venice. It's from Greg Kimble's "This is Cinerama" article on the site In70mm. Note the 6 perforations per frame pull-down. You can click on these for enlarged views.
A 2002 view of the center of the booth at the with a Kinoton 35/70mm projector beyond the platter and the center Cinerama projector behind that. The theatre was running at the time with a 4000 watt xenon lamp for 35mm and a 7500 watt lamp for 70mm. Regular film runs at the Dome are now digital. The photo is on the Film-Tech.com page on the theatre which you can find by going to pictures and scrolling down to the Cinerama Dome listing under "singles, twins, trios, quads."
A closer look at the Century head. Straight gate, water cooled. Photo: Bill Counter - 2017
The 35mm full coat mag sound reproducer for three strip Cinerama presentations. It's a 7500' reel. For this installation platters are used for the 3 projectors. Originally the 3 film sections were on huge reels as well -- about 34" in diameter and holding almost 12,000 ft. of film. The picture is 6 perforations per frame, running at 135 feet per minute. The sound runs at the same speed. Visit the Film-Tech site for many more pictures by Mark Ogden and John Sittig. Head to pictures and scroll down to the Cinerama Dome listing. There are also photos of many other theatres to browse as well as equipment manuals and more.
A three-strip Cinerama camera back in action in 2012 -- for the first time in over 50 years. On YouTube there are several shorts by Michael Cahill about film historian Dave Strohmaier shooting new 3 strip Cinerama footage in Los Angeles: "Cinerama 2012" Part 1 | Part 2
A three strip Cinerama camera displayed at the Dome during the September 2012 "Cinerama at 60" festival. The photo on Photos of Los Angeles is by Mark Tipton.
See the page on Cinema Treasures for many discussions about the Dome by enthusiastic fans. Michael Coate has lists of films playing the theatre from the 70s until 2000 in several 2008 comments on the Cinema Treasures page. The Cinema Tour page on the Cinerama Dome has lots of photos (including booth views) and a brief history.
More 70mm Information: See the Egyptian Theatre page here on the Los Angeles Theatres site for lots of data about TODD-AO, the 70mm process that kicked off the big screen roadshow era in 1955. The Egyptian was the first theatre in the area equipped for the process. For a rundown on 70mm engagements at Los Angeles theatres, go to Michael Coate's terrific site FromScriptToDVD.com. Head for the main 70mm page.
More Cinerama Process Information: For more information on the history of the Cinerama projection process see the Cinerama section on the film and theatre technology resources page. Check out the main Warner Hollywood page where there's lots of Cinerama information. Prior to the opening of the Dome, the Warner was the Cinerama theatre for southern California.
The site In70mm.com has lots of Cinerama information. See their Cinerama index page and the article on Cinerama pictures on digital. For the latest Cinerama filming in Los Angeles there's the article "Cinerama 2012."
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