3 years after Cinerama closed, we’re nonetheless ready to listen to its destiny

Cinema continues to be ready.

I walked by Fourth and Lenora the opposite day and there it was, a abandoned island of recollections dwarfed by the high-rises which have sprung up round it. The home windows are coated, with no crack to see; The sidewalk money register window is boarded up tight, however nonetheless boasts a sticker promoting Cinerama reward playing cards. The blue-and-red space-age mural nonetheless lights up the streetscape, and the cool retro Cinerama signal nonetheless shines vibrant. And all of the poster packing containers are nonetheless in place alongside the sidewalk—considered one of them, curiously, seems to be prefer it’s nonetheless lit, which I selected to learn as a beacon of hope—with their posters promoting not a film, however Cinerama itself: an advert for one thing we will not have, at the least not now.

It has been three years for the reason that historic Belltown single-screen cinema closed its doorways and laid off its employees. Vulcan, the corporate based by the late Paul Allen that has owned the theater for the reason that Nineties, first introduced in early February 2020 that Cinerama’s closing was non permanent and resulting from deliberate renovations. Just a few months later, after the pandemic hit, the corporate introduced that its Arts + Leisure division was closing and that Cinerama would stay closed “for the foreseeable future.” On the time, each different theater in Seattle was additionally closed, and it was exhausting to think about when that future would possibly come; laughing in a movie show with buddies appeared like a dream gone.

Now may be time to daydream, since we have had sufficient slips. For these of us who nonetheless love the expertise of seeing a film in a movie show, the information of the previous few years has been equally unhealthy: Guild 45 was destroyed, Seven Gables burned down, Harvard Exit and Neptune have been repurposed. Even in current weeks, we have realized of the approaching closing of the Regal Meridian downtown and the sale of the constructing that homes the College District’s Grand Phantasm. So few screens are left, when there was once so many. And but Cinerama waits – quiet and darkish, however nonetheless right here.

I want the aim of this story was to announce some huge information about Cinerama’s reopening. But when I had any such information now, I might have led with it. Vulcan’s vp of communications, Jason Hunke, whereas confirming that the theater continues to be intact and secured, instructed me lately that there isn’t a information to report right now. The almost certainly suspect to take over the theater is SIFF – which issued an announcement in 2021 calling for the theater to be preserved and noting that SIFF itself can be “well-positioned to maximise the power’s potential” however would would wish extra funding to take action – stated, through creative director Beth Barrett, that there was no information to report right now. Seattle Metropolis Council member Andrew Lewis, whose district consists of Cinerama’s block, stated cryptically in an e mail that “one thing might come collectively within the coming months,” however declined to elaborate.

In the meantime, there have been editorials and an internet Save the Cinerama petition with greater than 12,000 signatures and many individuals asking me, on a regular basis, if I feel Cinerama will reopen. What there hasn’t been, apparently, is an organized effort to guard the theater by nominating it for historic standing: Sarah Sodt, the town’s historic preservation officer, confirmed that there are at the moment no pending nominations for the Cinerama, which dates again to 1963 and is considered one of a handful of theaters all over the world constructed to function three-projector Cinerama expertise. It was beforehand nominated in 2008, however the nomination was not authorised after dialogue by the town’s Landmarks Preservation Board.

Eugenia Woo, director of preservation companies at Historic Seattle, stated an authorised historic designation would assist protect the constructing, however in the end the most effective final result can be to usher in a preservation-friendly purchaser and operator. cinema. “Everyone loves Cinerama,” she stated, “and all of us wish to see it reopen.”

I feel loads about Cinerama. I ponder if the foyer nonetheless smells like chocolate popsicles and if the display screen nonetheless sparkles prefer it has little diamonds embedded in it. I consider the magical moments I’ve spent there: being blown away by Hitchcock’s Vertigo for the primary time, within the 90s earlier than Allen purchased and renovated the theater; sitting with my nephew and having fun with all the youngsters in costume for a Harry Potter efficiency; laughing on the balcony with my good friend Bethany Jean Clement at a film night time dinner; disappearing into Powell/Pressburger’s fantastic The Tales of Hoffmann is like getting misplaced in a subject of Technicolor poppies. Watching these movies and lots of others on Cinerama’s huge display screen introduced such an excellent sense of abandon; as if the movie wrapped itself round you, embracing you with its drama and wonder.

The return of Cinerama, in fact, will not make downtown Seattle’s issues go away. It won’t remedy the issue of disappearing cinemas; it will not make sidewalks really feel safer; it won’t erase the hardship of the pandemic years, which continues to be felt at the moment. However for now, a constructing that when housed magic is gathering mud. Possibly one thing is at work; perhaps we’ll hear one thing quickly; perhaps that diamond vibrant display screen will activate once more. In the meantime, we and Cinerama wait and bear in mind.

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