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The Cinerama Adventure
News and synopsis - A FEATURE DOCUMENTARY

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Dave Strohmaier Date: August 16, 2003
Dave Strohmaier next to one of the original 3-strip Cinerama cameras.

Some news in a nutshell. Final sound mix Dolby 5.1 starts Monday Aug 11th, 2003 with new score & efx. 35mm film out of the Hi-def version starts Tuesday 12th. (Interviews are 1:33 inside of 1:85. when we cut to Cinerama its in curved  Smilebox 1:85) we had to upgrade (re-do) all the Cinerama shots in Hi def.

"Cinerama Adventure" plays at Arclight for one week starting Aug. 22nd-28th, 2003 which is the dates you must run to qualify for possible [Academy Award] nomination in  documentary catagory for 03.

The ASC has sponsored the doc so we have been getting services and free materials, for example Kodak donated the film stock for the film version. Dolby labs is  donating their services etc. It all done with hardly any money. Still no distributor or any interest a Broadcast. We have been accepted in to 3 more international festivals: Denver, St. Louis, possibly Chicago, and Reno. There will be a screening sometime during the "How The West Was Won" engagement  at the Dome. Sept. 12 to 28th, 2003. for those coming from afar.

After all this effort, donations, luck, the film looks great. Now its up to God and fate to make anything else happen. As of Jan 1st 2004 I start to look  for real work and get my editing career back on track (its been over three years of no editing jobs).  I always try to finish projects that I start and this film has been very very  hard on me, I hope it will have been worth it all someday. Carin-Anne has  stood by me all the way, supporting us both with her Disney job. I can  honestly say that this film made itself with the help of people like yourself and  others from all over the world, It is also as if the ghost of Lowell, Fred,  Cooper, Todd etc. were all somehow pushing me along. 
More in 70mm reading:

1st review of "The Cinerama Adventure"

"The Cinerama Adventure" Cast & Credit

Just Wait Until Next Year.... "Cinerama Adventure"

in70mm.com's Cinerama page

Speech for Dave Strohmaier

Internet link:


"The Cinerama Adventure"
will play at the Arclight Cinema in Hollywood for one week starting August 22nd-28th, 2003. 

There will be a screening sometime during the "How The West Was Won" engagement at the Dome (Sept 12th to 28th, 2003) for those coming from afar.

Cinerama Adventure

CINERAMA ADVENTURE is a feature length documentary chronicling the amazing history of the long lost three-camera, three-projector cinematic process which thrilled millions around the world in the 1950s and early 60s. It all began in 1942 with a virtual reality training device that was credited with saving over 350,000 lives during the war effort. Unlike the 3-D fads of the early 1950s, Cinerama enjoyed a steady 14 year reign, ultimately playing in over 200 specially equipped theatres in most major cities around the globe. These wildly popular, "Wonder Hunting" Cinerama productions were almost always listed within the top ten box office grossing films of the year with two titles landing in first place.

Though abandoned in 1966, the Cinerama process still brings back fond, and sometimes passionate, memories to millions of Baby Boomers - of sweeping aerials, world travel, thrilling roller coaster rides, and other virtual reality experiences designed to lift the audience out of their theatre seats and into the action. Practically forgotten for over 36 years, these films have been recently discovered, almost intact, in an obscure Hollywood vault. The documentary provides an in-depth revelation of the struggle to launch the groundbreaking widescreen process, which first incorporated stereophonic "Surround" sound and was far ahead of its time. In 1952 Cinerama single-handedly brought Hollywood to its knees and led the film industry into the widescreen - stereo sound era.

 The Cinerama story is told with all the same action, adventure and thrills found in the Cinerama movies themselves, as well as through the words of the surviving people who lived it. Over forty original crew members, celebrities and film historians have been interviewed. A wide selection of never before seen film clips, photos, and crew members' home movies help to illustrate the dramatic rise and fall of this era. "The Cinerama Adventure" takes you behind the scenes for the human interest stories of the trials and triumphs that were involved in making these films; stories of hair-raising danger, international intrigue, critical injury and death. The Cinerama crews were sparked by their need to capture something unusual and different, a form of total cinema imagery that was neither seen nor experienced by an audience before.

After Cinerama won prizes in several international trade fairs of the 1950s, the Russians promptly invented a Cinerama of their own, calling it, Kinopanorama. The Soviets claimed they had invented the process first and that America had stolen it. A cold war rivalry in widescreens ensued, as the two competing systems struggled to outdo each other in cinematic thrills.
August 18, 2003


What an excellent update for the Cinerama Adventure! Many thanks. I am now trying to catch up with all my emails after spending most of today catching up on my sleep. Randy and Carin-Anne have just finished reading it.

We finished our mix last night at around 9pm with the final step being with the Dolby sound consultant. It sounds great in the 5:1 sound, very exciting. Next object is to progress with the negative and the optical soundtrack to produce the composite screening print.

Again thanks for all your support. And I'll keep you informed of all the news. 

"It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World", was a fake 1963 Cinerama presentation, filmed in Ultra Panavision 70

The first Cinerama theatrical features were travelogue adventures which became unparalleled box office hits. Even though they played in only a few exclusive locations, their audience attendance rivaled - and often surpassed - those of the Hollywood films produced in that era. The first production, "This Is Cinerama", became the number one box office film hit of the entire year after playing for three months in only one Broadway theatre. All but two of the Cinerama films that followed were listed within the top ten box office blockbusters of their years. Struck by Cinerama's success, the major Hollywood studios developed widescreen systems of their own. This widescreen revolution introduced CinemaScope, VistaVision, Technirama and Superscope, which all were eventually eclipsed by Panavision.

In 1961 the unique magic of Cinerama was first applied to storytelling in a partnership with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The result was "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm" and "How The West Was Won", the latter becoming the number one box office champ of 1962. Unfortunately, due to the expense of conventional Hollywood production in the process, as well as the technical restrictions imposed on the filmmakers, the bottom line prevailed and "How The West Was Won", was the last true Cinerama feature. Cinerama lived on in a 70mm version for seven more years. While the familiar Cinerama name and logo survived into the 1970s with such popular films as "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World", "Grand Prix", and "2001: A Space Odyssey", the immersive depth of true three-strip Cinerama was lost.


About the Production

To simulate the Cinerama experience for The Cinerama Adventure, a special three-panel telecine process was developed by video and film expert Greg Kimble. The technique is used to transfer the original 35mm 3-strip camera negatives onto digital video. This video then goes into a graphics workstation for the blending and curving of the images. Pacific Theatres Corporation is the owner of the Cinerama assets and has given the film makers the rights to use clips from these films exclusively in this documentary.

Over 63 hours of interviews were shot with people involved in the eight true Cinerama films, or with their surviving sons and daughters. The interviews took place over three years in 14 locations in the United States, England, Norway and Ireland. The resulting wealth of material was enough to make a feature documentary, with plenty left over for supplemental elements on a DVD.

Once finishing funds are secured, a post production process of about 9 weeks should complete the feature version. As editing continues, there is an offline digital "Work in Progress" version of about 90 minutes. " The Cinerama Adventure" is still privately financed at this time and we are seeking the finishing funds to complete post production items such as scoring, online editing and computer graphics, plus securing some music and stock footage rights.


Putting the Audience in the Picture

Louis de Rochemont in Oslo October 30, 1999 during production of "Cinerama Adventure". Picture by Thomas Hauerslev

The audience for "Cinerama Adventure" would initially consist of the millions of people who remember seeing the process in its heyday. Baby Boomers who were taken as children to see the popular Cinerama shows of the 50s and 60s would be a large part of this demographic, as well as their parents who took them. Anyone interested in motion picture history, showmanship and technology will find the subject fascinating. This project would be a natural for distribution to all the classic movie channels, Discovery and History type channels, as well as PBS. Foreign interest would be strong as well. The Cinerama process was very big in Europe, with over 27 large theatres playing to capacity crowds in the mid 1950s to early 1960s..

Recently the Seattle Cinerama Theatre has undergone a complete restoration under the leadership of Cinerama fan & noted Baby Boomer, Paul G. Allen, co-founder of Microsoft. This multi-million dollar restoration has included the installation of the historic three-projector process and its deeply curved screen. Pacific Theatres has announced their intentions to bring true Cinerama to Hollywood's popular Cinerama Dome for periodic revivals.

As the celebrated Cinerama film process makes its way back onto select theatre screens to thrill a new generation, "Cinerama Adventure" explains how and why it was special, placing this unique American phenomenon into clear historical perspective.


"Cinerama Adventure" Trailer

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Updated 21-01-24