It's the news Seattle cinephiles have been waiting all summer for: SIFF Cinema Downtown (the theater formerly known as Cinerama) will open to the public Thursday, December 14 with screenings of Wonka.

Cinerama closed suddenly in February 2020 when Vulcan laid off nearly 30 employees without notice. A spokesperson for the company said at the time that the closure was temporary and it would reopen "later this year" after renovations. But the space remained shuttered until May 2023, when SIFF's executive director Tom Mara announced that SIFF had acquired the theater from Paul Allen's estate. (The Cinerama name was not included in the acquisition, hence the new title.)

Of course, The Stranger immediately followed up the news by asking important questions, like, "Will there still be chocolate popcorn?" 

Yes. Yes, there will be chocolate popcorn. SIFF says updated concessions will also include "Rachel’s Ginger Beer, Yonder Cider, Cafe Umbria, Alexandria Nicole Cellars, and a special SIFF 50th Anniversary brew from Black Raven Brewing Co." The theater will also offer reserved seating, and tickets will be on sale "soon" at

SIFF was able to reopen the theater quickly with financial support from both the City and King County—in August the Seattle City Council and King County Council approved nearly $2 million for SIFF so they could get those doors open ASAP. I guess they really wanted to see Timothée Chalamet's face on that 97-foot curved screen!

And, in case you missed it the first time around, here's how to make Cinerama's famous chocolate popcorn, as featured in our fall Art + Performance magazine: 

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