Seattle needs a hero to save beloved Cinerama


King County’s vaccination rates exceed 80%? To verify.

Cinemas open throughout the region? Affirmative.

Big budget sci-fi epic now on screen? It’s here.

All that’s missing is Movie theater, Seattle’s premier place to watch a movie. For generations, families and moviegoers have caught the latest blockbuster, cult classic or festival at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Lenora Street. Its state-of-the-art projection and immersive sound – not to mention the iconic chocolate popcorn – promised an experience like no other. This is where “Star Wars” fans camped for weeks before a premiere.

Closed since the pandemic, the Cinerama is in limbo. The prospect of seeing this beloved cinema slowly decay – or worse, fall under the wrecking ball – is too gruesome to consider. Seattle needs a hero to make things right.

The theater is owned by Vulcan, which was founded in 1986 by Paul G. Allen and his sister Jody Allen to “make and leave the world a better place”.

Allen, who died in 2018, was known for his eclectic interests and love of music, history and films. He bought Cinerama in 1998. First opened in 1963, it is one of the few theaters in the world originally built to showcase Cinerama technology with three projectors. It underwent extensive renovations in 1999, 2010 and 2014.

It’s unclear exactly where it ranks in Vulcan’s diverse portfolio.

In May 2020, Vulcan announced the closure of its Arts + Entertainment division, as well as its film entity, Vulcan Productions. The Cinerama, which was closed for renovation, was suddenly closed “for the foreseeable future”.

Asked about the state of the theater last week, a spokesperson for Vulcan said there was “no news to share at this time.”

Maybe it’s because things are slowly getting back to normal, or maybe it’s the start of the epic adventure film “Dune,” but now seems like a good time to make a case for Cinerama’s resurrection.

A “Save Seattle Cinerama” petition Started two weeks ago, the theater “has been an institution in Seattle for over half a century and has provided the city’s most exceptional cinema experience since its inception.”

With around 2,000 signatures to date, he calls on Vulcan to invest in the historic theater and get it back on track. He also wants the Seattle Neighborhoods Department’s historic preservation program to designate Cinerama as a Seattle landmark, protecting it from demolition.

If that’s not something Vulcan wants to do, how about someone else trying it? A reluctant champion who steps in to save the day and owes a debt of gratitude. Sounds like a story made for the big screen.

With a grand reopening, we could mark our 2023 calendars for “Dune: Part Two” where it’s supposed to be seen – Cinerama.


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