SEATTLE -- The treasured Seattle Cinerama Theatre is getting a 21st Century technical upgrade with state-of-the-art digital sound and pictures along with a refurbishment of the classic, mid-century, wide-screen theater.
The two-month project will ensure that Cinerama remains a vital piece of Seattle's entertainment experience, where movie goers will be able to see a wide diversity of programming, from the latest 3-D blockbusters to indie films on the festival circuit.
In 1998, philanthropist and investor Paul G. Allen saved the Cinerama from a fate as a parking lot, dinner theater or rock climbing gym, and restored the massive, curved screen used for special presentations of Cinerama and 70mm wide-screen movies. It is one of only three theaters in the world that can show original Cinerama movies.
Allen and Cinerama have been strong supporters of independent films. Use of the theater has been donated for numerous festivals, including the Seattle International Film Festival, the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival, the National Film Festival for Talented Youth and the Seattle Human Rights Film Festival.
The upgraded Cinerama will host even more festivals and community events, according to Lyn Tangen, senior director of Corporate Communications at Allen's Vulcan Inc.
Cinerama will close Aug. 30 for two months for installation of cutting-edge digital sound and projection system and the remodeling needed after a decade of heavy use.
When Cinerama reopens in the fall it will be operated by a new management company. Allen has hired Greg Wood, owner and operator of Portland's Roseway Theater, to operate Cinerama. Wood recently renovated and reinvented the Roseway, preserving its original art-deco decor and installing the newest in digital projection and sound systems.
Wood had extensive theater experience when he purchased the Roseway in 2008, a beautiful single-screen theater that has won rave reviews and quickly developed a dedicated following among Portlanders.
"Greg is a great fit with Cinerama and our emphasis on local relevance, progressive, independent thinking, and attention to detail," Vulcan's Tangen said. "He understands the importance of Cinerama to the community."
Tangen also thanked AMC Entertainment Inc. for its years of quality management of the iconic theater. The company will close out its role Aug. 29.
There are few single-screen theaters that still provide the array of movie choices available at Cinerama. Going forward, Wood and Vulcan will build even closer relationships with the public as well as the many community groups around Seattle that will come to Cinerama for fund-raisers or other special events.
"It's an amazing opportunity to be taking the helm of one of the coolest theaters on the planet," Wood said. "We're all excited to see these improvements happen. It will be a wonderful addition to the future chapters of Cinerama history."
Seattle movie buffs should watch Cinerama.com to be among the first to learn about plans for the grand reopening and to see what will hit the new, big screen first.