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Exploring the world outside of the park
Part Two: ArcLight Cinemas / Cinerama Dome Complex

ArcLight Cinemas / Cinerama Dome Complex


For those of you just joining in - please refer to the first page of the last tour in this series to find out what it is all about.

Let's continue our Hollywood tour with the newly refurbished and expanded ArcLight Cinema complex, built around and incorporating the famous landmark Cinerama Dome theater.

ArcLight Cinemas / Cinerama Dome Complex

The Cinerama Dome with its 316 hexagons and pentagons was built in sixteen weeks in 1963 and opened with Stanley Kramer's "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World." Oddly enough, although accommodations were made to show three projector Cinerama movies, by the time the Dome opened, the trend had pretty much run its course due to high costs.

"Mad World," as well as Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" and the adventure "Krakatoa, East of Java" were filmed with a more economical single strip 70mm camera, even though ads for these films carried the Cinerama logo. As a result, these films were projected onto a deeply curved (and rather impressive) screen at the Dome of 32' x 86' feet in size, and over the years the theater became a showcase for normal films an their star studded glitzy premieres.

When the Dome was originally built it had the ultimate 1960's must-have accessory, a huge ground parking lot surrounding it on two sides. (Disneyland fans - this sound familiar?) This huge parcel was created by turning almost four blocks into one big one, although later development added a bank and fast food franchise on the East side of the property.

The Dome was sort of always an odd duck in the Hollywood area, it was a little too new in a neighborhood that only fifteen years later was heading downhill rapidly. While the theater remained a premiere favorite (the adjacent parking lot allowing for huge party tents to be set up easily in) the eventual loss of nearby Wallach's Music City, the decay of the TAV TV Production Theater complex (formerly the ABC Studios until Merv Griffin took them over and did his talk show from there) was the beginning of the end.

A few years later, the failure of a huge Mercedes Dealership (leaving a brand new building empty), along with RCA / BMG Records moving from their custom built '60s "Music Center of the World" complex across the street to Beverly Hills instead pretty much turned the neighborhood into a fast food hangout for all the nearby Hollywood media production houses. Even the Music Plus (later Blockbuster) store a block down Vine closed.

With the reduction of theaters on Hollywood Blvd., mostly due to their increasing age and the change in the local audience, Pacific Theaters remained committed to a theater in Hollywood. But their plans included removing the Dome to accommodate a more profitable 14 screen multiplex. For lots of reasons way too complicated to get into here - including a nationwide slow down in theater construction - accommodations made by the city - and a vigorous campaign by Dome fans to keep the original theater as a part of the new complex - agreement for the new ArcLight Complex was reached. 

It opened March 22nd, with E.T. in the theater that it originally had premiered in. As you can see below, it is still somewhat a work in progress.

ArcLight Cinemas / Cinerama Dome Complex

To enter the ArcLight complex off of Sunset Blvd (as opposed to the Dome itself, which you just walk up to) - you look for an entry between the Dome and the new construction next to it (detail below). As you can see, at this early date there is still signage to add.

ArcLight Cinemas / Cinerama Dome Complex

As you walk around the Dome, you'll notice the new construction "wraps it" - there are actually three new structures here. The two buildings flanking the Dome are the ArcLight Theaters (to the right, out of sight of the photo above) and a new three story retail / dining complex, which you see to the right (below).

ArcLight Cinemas / Cinerama Dome Complex

As you can see they are still building here, the area adjacent to the Dome with the beams being put in appears to be a covered waiting area or concession situation.

Walking a bit further, you finally see the theater building (below).

ArcLight Cinemas / Cinerama Dome Complex

Between the two buildings above (and to the right) you'll spot the huge new parking structure (shown below). Parking is validated for three hours with purchase, which allows you to stay for a bit before and after the movie if you choose. (Unless of course you go to see the restored Director's Cut of Amadeus -  which clocks in well over that and makes for a $3 extra charge.)

ArcLight Cinemas / Cinerama Dome Complex

Yes, those are four elevators you see on the montage above, as they want to move people in and out of this complex quickly. I only wish Disneyland had been as considerate in their new huge parking structure.

The area between the buildings has plenty of space for movie premiers and parties, and there is outdoor two level seating for a restaurant inside (yes, this theater has a restaurant). Oddly enough there are about four rather strange green Plexiglas "rocks" (for lack of a better word) lit from within placed at various points in this area. My guess is that this is still a work in progress. While barren at this point - it is easy to see how this area will be greened up.

Let's continue, shall we?



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