Seattle Cinerama

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Seattle Cinerama
Former names Seattle's Martin Cinerama
Address 2100 4th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121
Location Belltown, Seattle, Washington, USA
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Owner Vulcan, Inc. (Paul G. Allen)
Capacity 570[1]
Opened 1963
Renovated 1999, 2010, 2014

The Seattle Cinerama Theatre is a landmark movie theater located in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle, Washington in the United States of America. It is one of only three movie theaters in the world still capable of showing three-panel Cinerama films.


The Seattle Cinerama opened in 1963 as Seattle's Martin Cinerama as a showcase for the eponymous technology, but was retrofitted a few months later to also show 70 mm films on its huge curved screen. The movie house soon became specialized in showing such spectaculars as The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Both formats shortly fell out of fashion, and Krakatoa, East of Java from 1969 was the last non-standard film to be shown at the Cinerama in the first era of its existence.

The following three decades were lean, as the proliferation of suburban multiplex theaters drew movie fans away from the Cinerama. Lackluster ticket sales quickly led to a general decline in the theater's upkeep, until it was relegated to play second-run movies after being taken over by Cineplex Odeon on a reduced rent, month-to-month basis.[2]

Major 1990s renovation

The turnaround began in 1997 when developers revealed plans to turn the Cinerama into a dinner theater or a rock-climbing club. This sparked a grassroots effort to save the historic venue, with local film buffs circulating petitions and issuing an urgent cry for help, which was answered by multi-billionaire Paul Allen, himself a movie fan and patron of the theater during its 1960s heyday.

Allen purchased the theater and initiated a comprehensive, multimillion-dollar restoration. The grand re-opening occurred in 1999. Since then, the theater has played both classic movies and select new productions.[3]

The renovation restored the look of a great mid-20th century movie house, and also saw the installation of state-of-the-art technology and accessibility features. The theater now contains 808 seats and two screens. The first is a deep curved 90-foot-long, 30-foot-high screen, constructed of 2,000 louvered strips. It is used for presenting rare three-strip films such as How the West Was Won and 70 mm classics like Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. The deep curve screen is stored in sections behind a smaller screen used for regular screenings of modern 70 mm/35 mm first-run movies. A professional crew is required to dismantle the smaller screen and assemble the larger one for Cinerama and special event presentations.

2010 renovation

The theater closed at the end of August 2010 for another round of renovations. During the closure, a new digital projection and sound system was added, including support for the screening of 3-D films.[4] A new screen was also installed, the concessions area updated, new carpeting and paint, and a new marquee and signage outside.[4] The theater is still able to present films in 70mm and three-panel Cinerama formats.[4]

When reopened, the theater was no longer operated by AMC Theatres. The owner of a popular single-screen theater in the Roseway neighborhood of Portland, Oregon became the new operator.[5]

2014 renovation

The theater closed in August 2014 for yet another round of renovations.[6] Three months later, on November 20, the theater re-opened for a screening of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1.[7]

This fourth renovation of Cinerama saw a plethora of changes to the interior. Notably, the theater's capacity was reduced from 798 to 570 seats, allowing for more leg room and wider seats.[1] The number of speakers was increased to 110 from the original 65, with some accompanying acoustical changes. A new projector, the Christie 6P laser projector, was outfitted into the auditorium as well.

Festivals and Events Held at Cinerama

In recent years, the Seattle Cinerama has been host to a number of festivals and events including:

  • SFFSFF: The EMP Museum in collaboration with SIFF operates the annual festival showcasing animated and live-action science fiction, fantasy, and horror-tinged short film from around the globe at the theater.[9]

Notable screenings

In 2001, Warner Brothers chose the Seattle Cinerama as the theater in which to premiere the newly restored 70mm print of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. The film opened on October 5, 2001 and eventually opened in other cities around North America the following month.

2001: A Space Odyssey had an exclusive run locally at Seattle Cinerama for nearly two-and-a-half-years following its original release in the fall of 1968.

In 2012, Paul Allen himself paid for a new 70mm print of Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" to be produced for the first annual Cinerama Science Fiction Film Festival. Due to rights issues, the studios own the new print. It has, however, been placed on "permanent loan" to the Seattle Cinerama.

2013 Introduced 2D Tuesdays: Beginning with The Great Gatsby on June 5, 2013, the theater began showing 2D versions of all 3D films every Tuesday.[12]

Other Cinerama film venues

In addition to the Seattle Cinerama, the two theaters in the world still capable of showing three-panel Cinerama films are the Cinerama Dome at ArcLight Cinemas in Los Angeles, and the Pictureville Cinema at the National Media Museum in Bradford, England.




  1. 1.0 1.1 Macdonald, Moira. "Cinerama reopens with snazzy seats, better sound — and beer and wine". The Seattle Times. The Seattle Times. Retrieved 30 November 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Moira Macdonald (August 25, 2010). "Cinerama closes for two months, starting Monday". Popcorn & Prejudice (blog). The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2010-08-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Ben Waterhouse (August 5, 2010). "Roseway Theater Owner to Take Over Seattle's Cinerama". Willamette Week. Retrieved 2010-08-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Missing or empty |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Cinerama. "WE'RE READY FOR OUR BIG REVEAL". Cinerama - Seattle's Most Epic Movie Experience. Retrieved 30 November 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links