In praise of (nearly extinct) big curved-screen 70mm theatres

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by MLutthans, Oct 13, 2010.

  1. MLutthans

    MLutthans 70mm Gort Staff

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    One of the joys of my formative years was going to BIG theatres with BIG curved screens and 70mm presentations. Geez, I miss those great theatres. There's just nothing today that measures up, IMO.

    I've been fortunate to see movies at the Cinerama and Dimension-150 ("D-150") Theatres in Honolulu, Salt Lake City, Seattle (two Cinerama venues plus a D-150), Tacoma, Portland, San Jose, Los Angeles, Omaha, Dayton, Denver, and Chicago. The only one in the US that is still functioning and has eluded me all these years is the Uptown Theatre in Washington D.C. Last night, I flew into Baltimore at 4 PM, was at the theatre in Washington by 6, stayed in the theatre until 10PM, went to bed, and flew home to Seattle at 6 AM this morning, but it was worth it to finally see this place. Anybody else have memories of the these big 70mm houses??? (Below: my photo of the mega-curved, mega-big screen at the Uptown last night. Too bad WALL STREET 2 was showing!)

    [PS - when true Cinerama played in this venue, all that black masking would have been gone, and the red curtains would have pulled back all the way behind the outlying black draperies. 35 & 70mm use only a portion of the original Cinerama screen's real estate. Now THAT was big!]

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  2. kevinsinnott

    kevinsinnott Forum Coffeeologist

    Location:
    Chicago, IL USA
    Very cool. Did you mention one in Chicago? I assume it is defunct, but wonder where it was. Thanks for posting.
  3. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat and Abbie: Best Dogs Ever

    Location:
    Alexandria VA
    Ironically - given your only-now-realized quest - the vast majority of my related memories are of the Uptown! Grew up here in the DC area, so I've been there quite a few times. The screen actually fell upon disrepair for a while there - I saw the 1992 re-release of "Blade Runner" there and I could see peeling - but they fixed it up well.

    I saw "Back to the Future" at the Cinerama Dome in LA and was dazzled. Not sure why I never saw anything else there...
  4. tommy-thewho

    tommy-thewho Forum Resident

    Location:
    detroit, mi
    Showcase in Toledo used to have one that I loved.
  5. MLutthans

    MLutthans 70mm Gort Staff

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    The one that I went to was in Calumet City, just south of Chicago, and yes, it's now closed. I took some 3-D tungsten slides of the interior. Here's a scan of one in wonderful 2-D, but with the screen way, way masked off. For D-150, the curtains would have opened up to the "crack" in the curtains at the edge of the curve, and most of the masking would have disappeared:

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  6. MLutthans

    MLutthans 70mm Gort Staff

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    IIRC, the Uptown had it's Cinerama "strip screen" (think of 2000 Venetian-blind-style strips hung vertically) until about 1995 or so. I think the first film to show on the "sheet" screen that is there now was the 70mm reissue of "Vertigo."

    Currently, the only North American theatre to still use a true Cinerama strip screen -- and only on special occasions -- is the Cinerama in Seattle, and it is not installed correctly, so it's really a pointless exercise, sad to say.

    Here's a photo of a falling-apart Cinerama screen in Chicago's Cinestage Theatre, now the Roger Ebert whatchmacallit across from *THE* Chicago Theatre (not my photo; from here):

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  7. JamieC

    JamieC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Detroit Mi USA
  8. benjaminhuf

    benjaminhuf Well-Known Member

    The big Edwards Newport has a slightly curved screen, iirc.

    Hope to see something when I'm in Seattle this December. Does anyone know what's playing at their Dome from Dec. 22 to Jan 1?
  9. bartels76

    bartels76 Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    CT
    I saw T2 at the Cinerama Dome. Best movie experience of my life. I saw other movies there but nothing as amazing as that night. That movie was meant for that screen. people jumped out of their seats when the Terminator stepped on the skull in the opening scene.
  10. MLutthans

    MLutthans 70mm Gort Staff

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    The Newport used to have what I would call a "deep curve" screen, but it was removed a few years ago in favor of one that is "nigligibly curved."

    Here's an odd photo I took in virtually zero light, so the colors are all whack-o. I was seated on the floor, looking up along the current screen toward the still-visible curtain track that outlines the position of the former screen in the Newport. No comparing the two!

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  11. MLutthans

    MLutthans 70mm Gort Staff

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    Not even they know what's playing in December yet.

    You could be in for an interesting experience. The Cinerama here (not a dome; just a normal Cinerama theatre, btw, but the whole "dome" thing is strictly architectural and doesn't effect the film presentation) is currently undergoing a lengthy remodeling and change in management. Be sure to track me down while you're in town!

    Matt
  12. MLutthans

    MLutthans 70mm Gort Staff

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    I saw that there, too, in 70mm, and was extremely impressed. There are some technical issues going on in that building, but if you can get beyond that (as I easily can), the experience has great impact.

    I remember being really impressed with 8-track SDDS there for THE PATRIOT several years ago, too. Gorgeous sound at the time.

    Matt
  13. benjaminhuf

    benjaminhuf Well-Known Member

    Yeah, maybe we could see a matinee or something...?
  14. dewey02

    dewey02 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Duluth MN
    I remember the Cinestage in Chicago, back from the late 1960's.

    I saw 2001 there when it first came out. Talk about being impressed!!!! I believe I also saw Ice Station Zebra and Battle of the Buldge there too, although I don't remember if those were 70 mm presentation, but they may have been.

    Many years later on, I think Cinestage was showing porno.
  15. MLutthans

    MLutthans 70mm Gort Staff

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    Yes, Ben, we could do a matinee (of course!), and yes, dewey02, Cinestage was a porno theatre for a time, and ICE STATION ZEBRA and BATTLE OF THE BULGE were 70mm.

    Matt
  16. Vidiot

    Vidiot I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie.

    Just to cast a dissenting opinion (my specialty): the problem with deeply-curved screens is that you can't have any straight horizontal lines in the shot. Instead, you wind up with a bent line on the sides, which wrecks wide shots, titles, and anything with wide horizontal lines.

    I recognize that Cinerama and D-150 were specific processes, and they tried to compensate for this problem to a point. But showing anything else on screens this deeply curved really, really distorts the image.

    I still cringe every time I have to see something in the Ceramic Dome on Sunset Blvd. (and that screen isn't as curved as it used to be). Give me a big, giant flat screen anytime -- assuming the projector's in good shape and everything is aligned properly.
  17. williamjoel

    williamjoel Active Member

    Location:
    Ossining, N.Y.
    Here's the one I remember, New York's "Loew's Capitol." I did see the two real Cinerama movies there and the fake Cinerama "2001: A Space Odyssey" there in its first (reserved seats) run. I loved that theatre. It was BEAUTIFUL and seeing a film there was a life experience.

    [​IMG]

    This picture doesn't do it justice. It had everything from koi ponds to a Japanese garden which you walked through on the way to your seats.

    [​IMG]
  18. williamjoel

    williamjoel Active Member

    Location:
    Ossining, N.Y.
    Another picture of Times Square's "Loew's Capitol" (1929-1968)

    [​IMG]
  19. wolfram

    wolfram Disco Infiltrator

    Location:
    Berlin, Germany
    That was the "Royal Palast" in Berlin.

    [​IMG]


    It's where I saw the "Star Wars" movies as a child. It's gone now.





    That's the "Zoo Palast" in Berlin. Still open.
  20. marcel

    marcel Alea Iacta Est

    Location:
    Italy
    Stunning pictures...those are the kind of theatres where movies are meant to be seen!
    Where I live it's all multiplex now..the last truly BIG movie experience for me was watching The Fellowship of the Ring in a theatre that ceased to exist some months after showing the first part of the "Ring" trilogy.:sigh:
  21. sparkydog

    sparkydog Forum Resident

    Location:
    Kentucky
    I saw This is Cinerama and Around the World in 80 Days here :shake: (Rialto Theater, Louisville, KY):


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I mainly remember the "surround" sounds and the "seams" in the projection process.
  22. sparkydog

    sparkydog Forum Resident

    Location:
    Kentucky
    And saw the "fake" Cinerama 2001 here (United Artists, now the beautifully restored Louisville Palace):

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  23. Vidiot

    Vidiot I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie.

    Wow, that's one of the most beautiful movie theaters I've ever seen.

    The only 70mm / Cinerama theater we had in Tampa, where I grew up, was the Palace Theater downtown. I don't think it looked even 1/10th as good as the Louisville Palace.
  24. Marty Milton

    Marty Milton Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Urbana, Illinois
    There was a Cinerama theater in downtown Chicago. It was the McVickers Theater. My wife saw How The West Was Won there in the early 60s.
  25. benjaminhuf

    benjaminhuf Well-Known Member

    Thanks, sparkydog, for posting pix of our great theater. :righton:

    Unfortunately when they show movies there now it's usually projected dvds....:sigh: