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A new hope for the Cinerama Dome

A new hope for the Cinerama Dome

Hollywood lost one of its most iconic destinations for movie lovers in the spring of 2021. Located on Sunset Boulevard just west of Vine Street, the Cinerama Dome once boasted the largest motion picture screen on the planet, alongside the 14-screen multiplex of Arclight Hollywood. When Pacific Theatres, owner of the Arclight Hollywood and Cinerama Dome, filed for bankruptcy and ceased operations, the Cinerama closed its doors permanently… or maybe not.

First opened in 1963, the Cinerama Dome was originally intended as a prototype to demonstrate the new Cinerama process, which uses a curved screen that is required for the three-projector system. Remaining as the only example of a Cinerama theater. 

One of the most unique and recognizable theaters in the world, measuring at 86 feet wide and 32 feet wide. As well as being the first concrete geodesic dome in the world. Having over 300 hexagonal and pentagonal panels weighing approximately 7,500 pounds each. With a seating capacity of 956 seats. 

Photo: James via Flickr

Filmmaker Rian Johnson told the Los Angeles Times in April 2021 that “There’s a reason every movie lover in L.A. is in mourning. If you lived in this town and loved movies, you’ve had life changing experiences in that complex.”

 The Decurion Corporation, which owns the Pacific Theatres chain, made headlines in December of 2021 after obtaining a liquor license for a business by the name of “Cinerama”. The license allows for its holders to operate events, catering, two bars, and an “on-sale general eating place” — a.k.a. a restaurant — for Arclight. 

The application for the license listed the former Dome and Arclight Hollywood multiplex as the “Cinerama Hollywood.” Five months after being granted their liquor license, there has been no set date as to when exactly Cinerama Hollywood’s doors will open.

The Decurion Corporation did not respond to The Lion’s request for comment.

Many enthusiasts and lovers of film have had these shared experiences from seeing memorable screenings, premieres, and special events. Including myself. From seeing Once Upon a Time in Hollywood in 70mm, to listening to Willem Dafoe and Shia Labeouf talk about their experiences and process in creating some of their recent films.

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Photo: Courtney Mault

“These locations and many more in the same chain were the heart of the town for many filmmakers and film-goers alike,” director Edgar Wright told the Times. “It wouldn’t be wrong to call it my home away from home.”

According to the National Association of Theatre owners, only 1,000 out of 42,000 screens closed due to the pandemic. There are still multiple challenges the Cinerama will face in planning the revival. Movie industries and businesses have seen rapid change over the decade in response to streaming services and COVID. In addition to the rise in competition amongst theaters sprouting across Los Angeles. Sharing, improved features similar to the Cinerama Dome. Competition such as LA’s Alamo Drafthouse theater.

There are speculations that the Arclight Hollywood and Cinerama Dome will reopen sometime in 2023. It is still unsure when exactly the establishment will reopen.

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