If the New Cinerama Can't Save Movie Theaters, Nothing Can

Paul Allen's Wizards Go Deep on 21st-Century Entertainment Technology


$15 is still more than the PacSci IMAX. It's $14.75 to see Interstellar on IMAX film. Here, it's a quarter more...and with up scaled digital projection.

Cinerama, I may be back if you do 70mm festivals, but the days of popping down to see the latest money grab is over. That the first movie shown is a book that's been split into two parts for double the box office is fitting.

True, PacSci's IMAX is a quarter cheaper, but also doesn't have 110 speakers, Dolby Atmos sound, large, comfortable seating, local coffee/beer/wine, and chocolate popcorn. Also, that "up-scaled digital projection" is coming from a 6P Christie laser projector. The two aren't even comparable.
I think the days of a traditional single screen theater are almost over. The movie industry has been slow on the uptake, but now they realize that most people (people who aren't, say, 14-21) want to watch film in the comfort of their own home. More and more movies are being released simultaneously to theaters and to PPV cable. The big-budget Marvel and other action/adventure films aren't really the film experience most older adults want. It's loud, usually banal, and we've seen it all before on a much smaller scale. It isn't so much a film experience as it is a ride at Disney World.

Additionally, two tickets, a bucket of popcorn and a couple of cokes being a $50 night on the town? No, thanks. Not for a generation that went to the movies maybe two or three times a week for under $20.

No doubt younger views will support that Disney World experience I talked about earlier - if they can afford it. I wish the best for the Cinerama. I like having it around even if it no longer caters to me. And it is always nice to have a super-comfortable cinema.
The murals ARE cool!
Since it's reserved seating, I'm guessing lots of people will buy their tickets online, which means the ticket price will actually be $16.50.
Quick note on the PacSci IMAX (and all other non-LieMAX IMAX theaters - they are ripping out the film projectors. As per the PacSci website, Interstellar will be the last IMAX movie shown on film. The replacement? Pretty much what the Cinerama just installed (4K laser digital). Does this sadden me and piss me off to no end? Yes it does. Moving forward, there will be little reason to go to PacSci IMAX, because real IMAX will be dead, so I may as well go to my favorite theater instead (The Cinerama).

As for reserved seating purchased online, unless things have changed with the renovation, the Cinerama does not add an extra fee onto online tickets.
@6: Uh, everything has changed with the renovation.

Go their site and go through the steps to buy a ticket. You'll see the $1.50 "Convenience Charge" fee for buying online.

I am from the older generation that grew up on the first showing of Bambi and the original curved-screen Cinerama (e.g. I was on the elementary school play field when Kennedy was shot) and I am thrilled to see this renovation. I am still interested in the big box-office ridiculous CGI roller coaster ride superhero films and welcome the chance to have a real movie theater experience, even at these slightly higher prices and particularly when I can enjoy a beer at the same time (and I will gladly pay more to get a reserved seat).

I watch the intimate art house films in my local throw back theater or quietly at home from my couch....
$15/seat is regular price at an NYC multiplex (even the "black" ones); further proof that Seattle is not an International City
Why don't they re-open with a good movie???
@10 I believe it is primarily because this movie is one of the first available to showcase their new multi-zone sound system.
@8 - I am also well over 21, and no, I don't prefer to see film in the comfort of my home. I certainly will watch movies there, but I love going to the movies.

Will I go to Cinerama? Probably a few times - there are other theatres I'll be more likely to frequent (Ark Lodge, Landmark theaters, Egyptian). But I think this will fill a nice niche and I plan to go see the first film there. Why not?

Also - who buys popcorn or sodas at any movie theater anymore? It's all overpriced.
This 60-something has no interest in the latest special-effects extravaganzas geared for teens and young adults. If that's what the new Cinerama intends to concentrate on, I won't be there very often.

But I did see Lawrence of Arabia there after their last big remodel, and it was great. I hope they do retro filmfests on a regular basis. Amadeus on that sound system would be awesome.
Great! I plan on spending the extra couple bucks to reserve a seat and really enjoy the experience.
BUT...Will the Cinerama still retain the ability to show original cinerama movies? They were one of only two that still could, and I hope they've retained that ability as well as the ability to occasionally show original 70mm prints. I didn't find any mention of it on their website.
@14 - Here is part of the Times article:

"A new white screen, framed with lush-looking mauve curtains that look like they could cover a football field, has been installed, with the traditional Cinerama curved screen stored safely behind it."

Yes, we should be able to see films on the original Cinerama screen at some point - soon I hope!
The price is only a few bucks more than you'll pay at the multiplex, and it should be a much nicer experience. Plus you have the option to enjoy an adult beverage.

Popcorn and soda is ridiculously overpriced at just about every movie theater. Nobody forces you to buy it. Even we Americans can go two hours without stuffing our faces.
@13 Of course they're going to open with a popular movie that takes advantage of its new technology. What, you expected Shoah?
After being subsidized by local taxpayers over and over and over, it's nice to see our local Narcissist-in-Chief give back a little to the community. Will go there when the content justifies the technology.
Anyone tried the iPic theater out in Redmond? I haven't but want to. I can count on one hand the number of times a year I go to the movies, so the higher cost would be worth the comfort to me. I already can't go out with someone to the movies and dinner without spending 100 bucks.
@19 Its an ok theater. If you want a similar experience but don't want to go to the east side check out the Sundance cinemas over by UW.
Concessions at the Cinerama were always more reasonable than other cinemas, at least. I wonder how they'll compare in the re-opening, as I see they've added an online ordering fee now, too.
@1 Are you a masochist? PacSci is a beautiful but excruciating viewing experience. I'll gladly pay a single quarter for the significantly improved seating/viewing.

iPic Redmond is pretty solid: great seats, pretty good food at very-reasonable-for-theaters prices. You might also enjoy Cinebarre if you haven't been there. The iPic Redmond Premium Plus seats recline and they give you a pillow and a blanket: it's pretty amusing and pretty satisfying if you're willing to spend the money.

I still live in hope that we'll get an Alamo Drafthouse around here someday.
Cinerama was already the best place to see a film in town -- stoked to see the new version!
@16: "The price is only a few bucks more than you'll pay at the multiplex, and it should be a much nicer experience."

I can go see any movie at any part of the day/night at Sundance for $5 (with the current Orca promo). That's more appealing than spending $16.50 for a Cinerama ticket.

@22: "PacSci is a beautiful but excruciating viewing experience"

Are you referring to both the PACCAR and Boeing theaters or just one? The PACCAR is known for having terrible seats. The Boeing one is much better.
Oops, I meant to say ON MONDAYS (for the Orca discount)
I hope this theater does well and becomes the model of how to offer something consumers can't get at home. I want to see the days of the subdivided micro-screen megaplexes end and film return to the spectacle our parents and grandparents would have us believe it once was.

I love seeing movies in theaters. Comedy, action, drama, surrealist, whatever — there's a different emotional response when viewing films as part of a large group, in the dark, free of all the distractions of home.

For what it's worth, I think I paid $17.50 to see that one 3D blue people movie in a rather unremarkable IMAX auditorium in SF. I think I've paid even more for tickets at the ArcLight in LA.
@24 Good question. I'm a Seattle native so have been often over the years, but haven't paid attention to which screen. Last one I saw there was Jesus, err, Superman Returns and while I enjoyed the amazing screen it was the same unpleasant positioning/seating that I've been used to other the years "there". I'll pay attention to which "there" next time, and check out the Boeing theater if that's not the one I've been going to. :)
I used to go to a lot of movies in Seattle, though more of the indie/art house/Landmark films, so I haven't been to that many movies at Cinerama. It was nice to just immerse myself I the movie away from the distractions of home.

I didn't scale it back because of uncomfortable seats, high ticket prices, or the lack of locally grown snacks. Rather it's been the increasingly distracting conversations and running commentary during the movie and folks who can't seem to leave their phones alone for 90 minutes. Upgrades like those at Cinerama won't fix that problem.
@22 From your lips to God's ears re: Alamo Drafthouse. (Or should it be "from your fingertips to God's eyes"?)
We went last night and it was great! The screen was awesome, the reclining seats were oh so comfy, and the food and drinks were yummy & affordable.(and hey, who doesn't like to bring a beer in to a movie!) Best of all was the friendly hospitable staff! This place is doing it right. We felt as comfortable as if we were watching a movie at home, but had the fun of going out. This will be our new favorite place to see a movie.
Went tonight. Saw American Sniper. The experience was great! And so was the chocolate popcorn. I'll definitely be back.
@JonnoN: What's your idea of a 'great' film? The article said that it isn't going to be one of the artsy movies that everybody here at The Stranger loves so much (past or present), so you might want to think about coming here if said 'good' film isn't going to be shown.

Myself, I wish that this kind of theater could come here to Toronto: I'd be going to see movies at it a lot.

@Pahshee: what's your gripe with the current version of IMAX, and why should anybody care?