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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

November 11, 2010 at 10:41 AM

A sneak peek at Cinerama

As my fellow Seattleites know, Cinerama’s been closed for a few months for renovations, leaving many of us jittery with anticipation as to what might be changed there. But it’s reopening at midnight next Thursday (the 18th, or very early in the morning of the 19th, depending on how you look at it) with “Harry Potter and the Dealthy Hallows, Part I.” Tickets aren’t yet on sale, but the new website www.cinerama.com should launch any day now, with showtimes, a history of the theater, and ticket sales.
Yesterday I strolled over to Cinerama and got a sneak peek, courtesy of new operator/manager Greg Wood, who also runs the historic Roseway Theater in Portland. (Yes, he drives up and down I-5 a lot.) Though he wasn’t able to screen anything for me, so I can’t comment yet on the theater’s improved technology, he was enthusiastic about the new projector, new sound system and new screen, saying that Cinerama will now provide the first-class viewing experience the historic theater deserves. (“You’ll notice the difference,” he said. Stay tuned.) And I was pleased to hear that while he’s excited about the new 3D capability and digital projection, the theater is still equipped for traditional projection including Cinerama and 70mm formats, and that the “Cinerama Festival” will return in 2011. “Because we are now 3D doesn’t mean that we’re taking every 3D movie,” he said, expressing hope and confidence that Cinerama will book a variety of movies, from blockbusters to arthouse fare to local film-festival offerings.
Fans of Cinerama’s retro look will be pleased to know that it hasn’t changed much in the remodeling. The new carpet looks fine but blends in nicely, and the new concessions counter just looks shinier and more space-age; a few “Jetsons”-ish couches and chairs are the lobby’s biggest change, as well as a couple of (still empty when I saw them) display cases that will hold costumes and movie memorabilia. And (be still, my beating heart) there are now four popcorn poppers, where once was just one, so the days of stale popcorn at Cinerama should be behind us. Wood told me that while ticket prices are dictated by Hollywood economics (though he promised Cinerama would be no higher than other downtown theaters), they hope to make it up to patrons on concessions prices, which have been lowered — you can now get a small popcorn for $2. New concessions will include Cupcake Royale cupcakes, Theo chocolates, and Caffe Vita coffee.
Overall, I’m feeling optimistic (though I’d still like to see Cinerama’s seating sightlines improved, which is a problem, alas, for another day), and I liked how Wood describes Cinerama as “Seattle’s living room.” You?

The Cinerama marquee, back in 1997. A new, shinier sign, but with a similar look, went up a few weeks ago. (Photo by Greg Gilbert/The SeattleTimes)

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