Sunday, June 8, 2014

Photo-of-the-Week #162 - Cinerama, A Dying Breed, The Cinerama Dome, Hollywood, California, May 2009

Most people from the Great Depression and World War II generation and the Baby Boomer generation will remember and may have actually seen the cinematic splendor of a 146 degree, seven channel surround sound Cinerama movie. The nearest theater to my hometown of Clifton, New Jersey was in Bloomfield, a town that bordered Clifton. Interestingly, Bloomfield had a Cinerama theater and Clifton didn't despite the fact that Bloomfield had a population only slightly more than 50% of Clifton's population.

I captured this shot while I was driving, obviously, on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood in May of 2009. If you look carefully, just behind the vehicle mirror, you can see a small portion of the geodesic dome that made up the theater's auditorium. The theater was built in opened in 1963, 51 years ago. Cinerama had abandoned the 3 synchronized 35mm camera production techniques it had used since the first Cinerama film in 1952 for a single 70mm camera that produced less than the original 146 degree movies with lower resolution than the original productions by the time the Hollywood Dome opened. However, it was still constructed with the three separate projection booths.

After a renovation around 2002, the Hollywood Cinerama Dome screened some of the original three camera, three projector movies from the earlier days. It was the first time this theater actually showed a three projector Cinerama production. While the Dome is currently part of a 14-theater complex, it occasionally screens some of the original three projector Cinerama productions. The last three camera/three projector production was completed in 1962, How the West was Won. The last U.S. film production for the Cinerama wide screen format was in 1969, Krakatoa, East of Java. And the last 70mm wide screen (for the Cinerama screen) was a European production called, Run, Run, Joe!

I called this a dying breed because there are only three theaters, including the Hollywood Cinerama Dome, capable of and still screening the original three camera/three projector productions. If you were fortunate enough to see any of the original movies, although, technologically not up to 21st Century standards, you surely remember that it was quite an experience. If you have never seen a Cinerama production, I highly recommend you see at least one of them if you have an opportunity to be near one of the three venues - the Hollywood Cinerama Dome, The Seattle Cinerama and the Pictureville Cinerama, in the National Media Museum in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England. I highly recommend Seven Wonders of the World, Windjammer, Space Odyssey: 2001 and How the West was Won, but not to be forgotten is This is Cinerama, the original release with the famous roller coaster scene.    

1 comment:

  1. I believe the theater that became a Cinerama Bloomfield was the Welmont theater. I worked there as an usher when I was in high school. The owner of the chain of theaters, including the Clairmont Theater in Montclair, lived across the street from my family's home. The changed to Cinerama, however, after I was in college I believe. I remember seeing This is Cinerama and How the West was Won (still one of my favorite movies). - Dudley