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Final Curtain For The Cinedome
The 70mm Newsletter
of the domes which featured 863 seats. Picture by Bill Kallay.
inevitable coming of bulldozers happened this April when the Orange Cinedome
[Los Angeles, USA] was demolished. The once grand theater, which opened in 1969, was a victim
of the current craze of megaplexes across America. Time was kind to the
theater, until its owner, Century Theaters, closed it in favor of an
elaborate behemoth down the road called the Century 25 Stadium Theaters.
Going to the movies will not be the same in Orange County, California.
in 70mm reading:
Movie Theatres in Southern California
films in Los Angeles
Pictures have been copied here
of the Cinedome complex and box office, one week after closure. Picture
by Bill Kallay.
theater was unique in that its two main auditoriums were large domes,
featuring 863 seats each and large curved screens. Over the course of thirty
years, it was not uncommon to see 70mm films shown in them. What is somewhat
humorous is that those theaters also had stadium seating from opening day
until its closure in early 1999. Isn't the craze now called "stadium
view from the former lobby. Picture by Bill Kallay.
The theater expanded on a periodic basis over the years, eventually going
from 2 theaters to eleven by 1992. The complex itself was consistently
renovated and upgraded. In the early 1970s, the large domes featured early
70mm films such as "Camelot" and an exclusive
Quintaphonic Sound presentation of "Tommy" in 1975. By
the late '70s, Cinedome featured 70mm Six Track Dolby Stereo
and Dolby Stereo in most of its auditoriums. During the 1980s, Cinedome
was the theater to see films presented in 70mm. On certain summer periods,
the theater would run four 70mm prints of different movies at the same
time. The two large domes, a 500-plus seat standard auditorium and a
smaller dome were large gauge equipped.
small dome, left, after the buldozer.
Picture by Bill Kallay.
than likely if a film had a 70mm print available, the Cinedome acquired it.
During the initial re-lease of "Return of the Jedi", two
70mm prints were run. The domes were very popular with filmgoers, well
before the stadium seat craze took over the nation. Patrons enjoyed the
unhampered sightlines and the curved screens. The layout of the domes, much
like a curved amphitheater, was spacious and luxurious. Plush curtains and
entry music greeted movie goers, at least until slide shows took over the
pre-movie screen. Though the Cindedome wasn't perfect, it was a theater one
remembered even if the film was bad. The floors in the domes were hollow, so walking on them was like walking on a wooden box. Going to the bathrooms
was always an interesting experience.
theaters I've encountered allowed me to do my business and still hear the
loud movie soundtrack in the dome above me. And Cinedome prided itself on
Cinedome was a modern movie palace. Sitting in the domes, one was always
comfortable due the rocking chairs the theater had. The dome's ceiling
seemed like it went on into infinity. And the presentation Cinedome was a
treat. Even on 35mm stereo releases, the theater would always rock. But it
was on 70mm presentation that Cinedome was legend. In "Raiders of
the Lost Ark", the boulder rumbled over your head. In "Ghostbusters",
Slimer floated through your chest and back into the large surround speaker
behind you. In "True Lies", you felt the bullet casings
falling on the bathroom floor in Arnold's in-famous fight.
of one of the large domes, minus screen.
Picture by Bill Kallay.
theater was very profitable and consistently busy, even during the week. Why
Century chose to shutter the theater rather than expand it baffles fans of
the theater (there are many), but perhaps made sense for the company. There
was room on the property to expand and build a parking structure (parking
was never a strong suit at Cinedome). They instead chose to build a
25-screen complex on the site of an old drive-in. Add to that restaurants
and shops next to it, Century made both a jump into 21st century megaplexing
and added profits. The new theater is popular, but lacks the features of
Cinedome. Most of the theaters are small and the screens are fitted for
1.85:1 aspect ratios. There are constant sellouts, despite popular films
being shown on multiple screens. Cinedome didn't have that problem most of
the bulldozers tore out the projection booths, the domes became nothing more
than covered amphitheaters. The screens were indiscriminately ripped to
shreds. The speaker stands that once held the huge speakers became jagged
towers of steel. The fairly new plush red seats were covered with dust and
roofing tiles. Orange County is a place where any building over thirty years
old is demolished. Cinedome fell right in line with that tradition. It's
reminiscent of the film "Logan's Run" where no one was supposed to
live over the age of 30.
marquee during the summer of 1987. Picture by Bill Kallay.
the theater closed, some patrons came to the theater in disbelief that it
was closed. Others quipped that it was rundown and in a bad location. That
wasn't true. It was in good shape, equipped with Dolby Digital, DTS and SDDS
sound. The location was perfect, for it sat between two freeways. In fact,
Interstate 5 allowed patrons to exit right at the entrance to the Cinedome
hasn't been kind to 70mm or the theaters it played in. All over Southern
California, theaters equipped for 70mm have been closed in favor of
megaplexes. This has occurred in rapid succession in less than five years.
Exhibition chains favor catering to the masses, which is fine. But they've
also created an atmosphere where there is a sameness to going to the movies.
Cinedome and theaters like it were always one step above the norm.
in agreement, the author did not write this. Picture by Bill Kallay.
The Cinedome will be missed by movie fans, especially 70mm fans. The feeling
is akin to being a baseball fan who attends a classic ballpark, only to see
if torn down in favor of a modern stadium. Fortunately, there are Cinedomes
located in Northern California. But then again, maybe they'll meet the same
fate as the Orange Cinedome.
Cinedome had the distinction of first class presentation, great picture and
the latest sound systems available.
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