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"We keep you alive to serve this ship. Row well, and live."

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Morgan Montague Date: 09.05.2015
Panorama of the Seattle Cinerama. Click the image to see enlargement

To celebrate our 10th anniversary, my wife and I decided to make a train trip up to Seattle from Portland. Our intent, being fans of Charlton Heston's films, and "Ben-Hur", in particular, was to take advantage of the 1 day showing at the newly upgraded Cinerama Theatre. And Seattle is such a great weekend destination for fun and culture!

"Ben-Hur" was being shown as part of a weekly Saturday morning series of classic films including "North By Northwest", "Oklahoma!", and "The Tales of Hoffman". This is a tremendous opportunity for fans and film historians alike. The titles being shown are important and much loved works and must truly be savored on a large screen for which they were originally intended to be appreciated. Home theatre is great, but... there is something about 4 Arabian horse pulling a chariot across a 90 foot screen with 5 channels of sound behind it. This is an epic; it has to be BIG.
More in 70mm reading:

Portland, Oregon USA 70mm Update

Help the Hollywood Theatre Bring 70mm Film Back to Portland!

To commemorate William Wyler's monumental epic "BEN-HUR" shot in MGM's Camera 65

Internet link:

The Seattle Cinerama theatre now boast 6K laser projection and Dolby Atmos Sound System. The cinema keeps pushing the quality envelope of commercial digital audio visual presentation and maintains its reputation as the finest theatre in the Puget Sound Area. Reserved luxury seating online is a great option too, especially when travelling from out of town. As most know, this theatre has one of the largest screens on the West Coast, rivalling some IMAX venues, and it beautifully exhibits the recent 8K restoration of "Ben-Hur" quite magnificently. Film economics being what they are, we may never see again a fresh print in 70mm of this title. However, the new technology does present quite a remarkable picture with great clarity and gives a semblance of what has come before. 70mm offers us great color, low grain, excellent contrast, steady image, immersive sound and the roadshow experience of being a special event. These goals were largely met with the large screen digital presentation of "Ben-Hur".
While many debate the proper projection aspect for how this title should be shown, it's quite marvellous seeing this on a huge screen again and finally in its original aspect ratio of ~2.75: 1. My first exposure to this title was its 70mm rerelease where the image was adapted to spherical lens projection and 2.20: 1 AR. It plays quite well in its truncated incarnation, but it is quite a treat to see all the image real estate used from the original negative. No centurions or Circus Maximus crowd members cropped out by the optical printer.

The theatre is a single auditorium entity in an age of multiplexes. It does provide 2 interchangeable curved screens for projection depending if 3 strip and 70mm Cinerama is being shown, which is heavily curved, or a slightly curved screen for a more conventional experience. The shallower screen was being used for "Ben-Hur".
The theatre is owned by Microsoft co-found Paul Allen and his Vulcan, Inc. operation. He is a collector of rock and roll memorabilia and science fiction memorabilia.

The theatre also observed roadshow formalities with playing the overture to reduced lights before the film. As the music wound down the lights dimmed further and the auditorium doors all slowly closed simultaneously via quiet automation. This was repeated for the Entr'acte as well. The MGM logo appears as the curtains pulled open and the audience applauded. The image was spectacular and multichannel sound was impeccable and impressive. 1959 high fidelity prestige entertainment meets 2015 high tech. We settled back for the next 4 hours of epic sight and sound, and availed ourselves to the theatre's outstanding concessions and comforts.

A few photos of the theatre are included. Apologies for the softness of focus in some of the images. They were taken with my Galaxy S4 cell phone and I didn't want to be "that guy" with annoying flash, etc. Enjoy! And please visit the other outstanding
"Ben-Hur" articles here at in70mm.com.
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Updated 21-01-24