continue our Hollywood tour with the newly refurbished and expanded
ArcLight Cinema complex, built around and incorporating the
famous landmark Cinerama Dome theater.
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.
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
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.)
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.
continue, shall we?