Seeing Stars: Hollywood Movie Palaces..

6360 Sunset Blvd.,
Hollywood, CA. / (323) 464-1478

In a city filled with remarkable movie theatres, the Cinerama Dome still stands out.

Located near the southwest corner of Sunset and Vine, the theatre is housed in a giant, white geodesic dome. (Buckminster Fuller would be proud.)  Inside the 72 foot-high dome, the Cinerama is a circular auditorium featuring a huge, curving screen, seating for almost 1,000, somewhat spartan decor, an upstairs balcony, plush comfortable seats, and one of the best sound systems extant.

The Cinerama Dome is one of the few round movie theatres you will ever see. It was built in 1963 to present special "Cinerama" movies. Cinerama was a wide-screen format of the early 60's, which used three separate 35mm projectors and a vast curved screen to present realistic travelogues. It was a huge success at first, and hundreds of domed theatres were planned, but the wide-screen process proved too expensive, and the Cinerama movie fad soon faded from popularity.

The Cinerama Dome, however, remained. It now shows standard Hollywood blockbusters in standard modern film formats; nevertheless, this is still one of the best places in town to see a movie.

And it is also one of the most identifiable Hollywood landmarks. It's hard to miss the giant white dome at Sunset & Vine. (It's the only geodesic dome in the world built entirely of concrete - 316 interlocking concrete hexagons.)

Major, star-studded movie premieres frequently take place at the Cinerama Dome. If you'd like to watch the stars arrive in person on the red carpet for these premieres, just check my Calendar of Events page for the dates and times.

When "The Untouchables" premiered at the Cinerama Dome, Kevin Costner refused to see it there. He said that back when he was a lad, he had celebrated his birthday at the Cinerama Dome, where he saw the epic western "How the West Was Won." The actor says that it impressed him so much that he felt his own movie might not be able to measure up to his overwhelming childhood experience at the theatre.

(As it turns out, it seems that "How the West was Won," never actually showed at the Dome. Instead, it played at the old Warner Cinerama on Hollywood Blvd. Apparently, Kevin got the two theatres mixed-up. But regardless, that Cinerama movie experience made young Kevin a fan of Westerns, and he went on to star in such cowboy films as "Silverado," "Dances With Wolves" and "Wyatt Earp.")

Mind you, this is not a theatre-in-the-round. Only the building is round. All 937 seats face south, towards the screen. And although the screen is quite large, it's not 360o.  The current Cinerama screen occupies perhaps a quarter of the circular wall, bending slightly with the curve of the walls. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage for the viewers. The large screen size enhances the viewing experience, but it also distorts the picture somewhat; normal horizontal pans can prove rather disorienting at times.

The best seats in the Cinerama Dome are on the floor of the theatre, near the center. Balcony seats are fine, but they somewhat diminish the impact of the large screen.

('Weird Al' Yankovic says it's his favorite theatre.)

Update:  Construction on a major $70 million expansion of the Cinerama Dome property began in mid-2000. The theatre temporarily shut down during the new construction, but it opened again in 2002.

The Dome has now become the centerpiece of a three-level entertainment and retail center, featuring 14 additional ArcLight screens (in a separate building behind the existing dome), 63,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space; a health club, microbrewry, nightclub, a parking garage, and 26,500 square feet of office space.

The Dome itself has been renovated; they added new seats, with more leg room, as well as new drapes and carpeting. There is now a gift shop for Cinerama merchandise,

When plans to rip-out the original 86-by-32 foot curved screen and replace it with a large flat screen prompted howls of protests from the Dome's admirers, the owners backed down and agreed to add a new Cinerama screen as well.

Best of all, they installed three restored Cinerama projectors, and have begun to show actual Cinerama films now and then, utilizing the full size of the giant curved screen for the first time.

 Getting there: The Cinerama Dome is bordered by Sunset Boulevard, Vine Street and De Longpre and Ivar avenues. From Hollywood & Vine, simply drive two blocks south on Vine Street to Sunset. The theatre is located on the southwest corner of Sunset & Vine.

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