posted by Michael Zoldessy on June 8, 2012 at 8:00 am


Compiled by William Hooper & Michael Coate

The following is a semi-regular series of retrospectives on CINERAMA, the legendary motion picture process that kicked off the widescreen revolution. The series focuses on providing a market-by-market historical record of when and where Cinerama and its multi-panel clones were exhibited. These easy-to-reference articles serve to provide nostalgia to those who experienced the Cinerama presentations when they were new and to honor the movie palaces in which the memorable screenings took place.

And now… Part 52: Cinerama Presentations in New Orleans, Louisiana!

Theater: Martin Cinerama
Premiere Date: January 17, 1963
Engagement Duration: 10 weeks
Projection Format: 3-strip / 24 frames per second / 7-track stereo
Promotional Hype: “Now… New Orleans has everything.” “[The new Martin CINERAMA Theatre is the] exclusive home of CINERAMA productions! SUPER CINERAMA will not or cannot be shown in any other theatre in the entire gulf area.” “The only SUPER CINERAMA Theatre in the entire Middle South!” “And now for the first time CINERAMA tells a story and the whole world of wonder becomes a wonderful world for you and your family.”

Martin Cinerama
March 29, 1963
28 weeks
3-strip / 24fps / 7-track stereo
“The Great Dramatic Motion Picture That Puts You In Every Scene!”

Martin Cinerama
October 11, 1963
9 weeks
3-strip / 26fps / 7-track stereo
“Beyond The Vastest Horizons of Imagination!” “Imitations come and go, but only CINERAMA puts YOU in the picture!”

Martin Cinerama
December 19, 1963
28 weeks
70mm / 24fps / 6-track stereo
“The Biggest Entertainment Ever To Rock The CINERAMA Screen With Laughter!”

Martin Cinerama
July 1, 1964
13 weeks
70mm / 24fps / 6-track stereo
“CINERAMA Puts You in the Middle of the Most Action-Filled Story You’ve Ever Seen!”

Martin Cinerama
January 28, 1965
8 weeks
70mm / 24fps / 6-track stereo
“Presented in CINERAMA”

Martin Cinerama
March 25, 1965
18 weeks
70mm / 24fps / 6-track stereo
“Presented in CINERAMA”

Martin Cinerama
July 29, 1965
11 weeks
70mm / 24fps / 6-track stereo
“CINERAMA Sends You Roaring With Laughter And Adventure Down That Wide, Wonderful, Fun-Trail!”

Martin Cinerama
January 28, 1966
13 weeks
70mm / 24fps / 6-track stereo
“SUPER CINERAMA is unlike anything you have ever seen!”

Martin Cinerama
April 29, 1966
8 weeks
70mm / 24fps / 6-track stereo
“It is more than you have ever seen…more than you have ever known of adventure…as the original CINERAMA brings you the entertainment achievement of a lifetime!”

Martin Cinerama
June 23, 1966
12 weeks
70mm / 24fps / 6-track stereo
“Where The Nile Divides, The Great CINERAMA Adventure Begins!”

Martin Cinerama
May 24, 1967
12 weeks
70mm / 24fps / 6-track stereo
“CINERAMA sweeps YOU into a drama of speed and spectacle!”

Martin Cinerama
January 25, 1968
5 weeks
70mm / 24fps / 6-track stereo
“A man too big for legend. A motion picture too big for any screen except CINERAMA!”

Trans-Lux Cinerama
May 29, 1968
29 weeks
70mm / 24fps / 6-track stereo
“An astounding entertainment experience, a dazzling trip to the planets and beyond the stars!”

Trans-Lux Cinerama
April 2, 1969
8 weeks
70mm / 24fps / 6-track stereo
“Ice Station Zebra…remember the name, your life may depend on it!”

Trans-Lux Cinerama
July 9, 1969
10 weeks
70mm / 24fps / 6-track stereo
“The NEW CINERAMA hurls YOU into the incredible day that shook the earth to its core!”

Trans-Lux Cinerama
October 19, 1973
4 weeks
70mm / 24fps / 6-track stereo
“The Last Time There Was A Show Like This One, It Was This One! THIS IS CINERAMA Is Back To Entertain A Whole New Generation”

THIS IS CINERAMA (shown only in 1973 single-strip version)

New Orleans was the 55th of 60 markets in the United States to present 3-panel Cinerama. It was the first (and only) Cinerama market in Louisiana.

The Martin Cinerama was the seventh purpose-built Cinerama theater to open in the United States.

In 1968 Trans-Lux took over ownership of the Martin Cinerama.

REFERENCES: Various issues of Boxoffice, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune, and Variety.

Part 1: New York
Part 2: Chicago
Part 3: San Francisco
Part 4: Houston
Part 5: Washington, DC
Part 6: Los Angeles
Part 7: Atlanta
Part 8: San Diego
Part 9: Dallas
Part 10: Oklahoma City
Part 11: Syracuse
Part 12: Toronto
Part 13: Columbus
Part 14: Montreal
Part 15: Northern New Jersey
Part 16: Charlotte
Part 17: Vancouver
Part 18: Salt Lake City
Part 19: Boston
Part 20: Philadelphia
Part 21: Fresno
Part 22: Detroit
Part 23: Minneapolis
Part 24: Albuquerque
Part 25: El Paso
Part 26: Des Moines
Part 27: Miami
Part 28: Orange County
Part 29: Pittsburgh
Part 30: Baltimore
Part 31: Syosset / Long Island
Part 32: Kansas City
Part 33: Milwaukee
Part 34: Nanuet / Lower Hudson Valley
Part 35: Denver
Part 36: Worcester
Part 37: Toledo
Part 38: St. Louis
Part 39: Tampa
Part 40: Calgary
Part 41: Hartford
Part 42: Albany
Part 43: New Haven
Part 44: Sacramento
Part 45: Las Vegas
Part 46: Seattle
Part 47: Phoenix
Part 48: Orlando
Part 49: Cleveland
Part 50: Portland
Part 51: Rochester

(Thanks to rivest266 for providing the image.)

Theaters in this post

Comments (15)

Mark_L on June 8, 2012 at 6:01 pm

At his Widescreen Museum site, Marty Hart defines Super Cinerama theatres as those built from the ground up for Cinerama, not older theatres retrofitted with the process.

CSWalczak on June 9, 2012 at 1:29 pm

It was not any enhancement of the original Cinerama process at all; it was just the way some of the newer, purpose-built Cinerama-equipped theaters and some of the 70mm Cinerama films were advertised (especially as a way of emphasizing that the “new” or “super” Cinerama was “seamless”). For example, see the poster advertising “Krakatoa, East of Java” on this webpage and the one for “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” in Spanish at the bottom of this webpage.

CSWalczak on June 9, 2012 at 11:49 pm

Well, I do not know for sure, but I think it is quite possible that the copyist who wrote that was probably referring to material in the Seattle Cinerama advertising archives that used that “Super Cinerama” advertising and descriptive phraseology, without really knowing that it was just advertising hype.

The Seattle Cinerama is, unless I am mistaken, the only surviving purpose-built Cinerama theater in the USA except for the Dome in L.A. which I do not think ever advertised itself as a “Super Cinerama”. The Cooper houses are all gone; the other two Martins are too, along with the Cinerama theaters in San Diego and Las Vegas. (There were some Redstone theaters that installed louvered Cinerama screens in the 1960s and showed 70mm Cinerama productions, but I do not think any of them ever advertised themselves as “Super Cineramas”. So one could, I suppose, claim that the Seattle Cinerama is the only surviving “Super Cinerama” house, at least in the USA.

None of the Cinerama films exhibited there differed in any way from Cinerama films exhibited anywhere else (at least on a roadshow basis). The three-strip films were either projected at 26 or 24 fps, probably if not certainly using modified or custom-built Century projectors (with the vibrating comb or “jiggolo” which helped blend the join lines) which were the most common (a few theaters used Cinemeccanica Victoria 8s) and the proprietary Cinerama sound reproducer. 70mm Cinerama films (regardless of the 70mm originating photographic process used) were originally projected using a pair of Philips Norelco production line DP 70s (since removed and replaced with other 70mm capable equipment – one of the original DP 70s is on display in the lobby). It is hard for me to believe that any of this equipment was dissimilar in any significant way compared to other Cinerama installations that had the capability of showing three-strip or 70mm Cinerama.

It is possible that there were some lens and/or aperture plate modifications made for Cinerama presentation at the Seattle Cinerama, but these would hardly be so unusual to qualify as some major alteration or enhancement. Almost all Cinerama installations required some technical tweaking. If memory serves, when the Seattle Cinerama was first restored, the Cinerama projectors came from a theater in Peru.

I think Martin Hart, curator of the Widescreen Museum website, is entirely correct when he says, “Super Cinerama,” which referred to 3-strip Cinerama theaters built specifically for that process…never referred to any sort of variation on the Cinerama photographic process, as has been stated in some references."

I lived through the whole Cinerama era, have been in many current or former Cinerama theaters, and have read just about anything I could find in print or on the web about the history of Cinerama, and have talked to a number of Cinerama experts such as John Harvey, and I have never read or heard anything about “Super Cinerama” except as being a promotional concept for certain theaters and some of the 70mm films.

It has to be remembered too, that by the time “Super Cinerama” appeared, Cinerama was on the decline for a number of reasons; the decision was made by 1962 or 1963 to drop the three-strip process in favor of the inferior, if cheaper, 70mm process, and several of the 70mm Cinerama films were something less than memorable. I am convinced that the use of “Super Cinerama” was similar to the way other products attempt to get re-invigorated by advertising them as “New and Improved” or “Super”.

If you really think there was anything more to “Super Cinerama” other than a form of advertising hype, you might want to contact John Sittig of Pacific Theaters in Los Angeles. Pacific Theaters inherited all of the Cinerama trademarks and patents, and John is the person who coordinates all current activity relating to Cinerama.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on June 10, 2012 at 8:44 am

CSW got it right!

A little more detail. In 1961 CINERAMA had 53 theatres in the United States and Canada, with 30 more in Foreign Countries for a total of 83 theatres. This did not include SUPER-CINERAMA THEATRES WORLDWIDE!

From the 1961 CINERAMA Annual Report:

“CINERAMA THEATRES OF TOMORROW, CINERAMA’s new concept in theatre design — SUPER-CINERAMA—whereby giant curved screen constitutes the entire fourth wall of the theatre, from ceiling to floor and from wall to wall. SUPER-CINERAMA theatres are of ultra modern design, and the entire interior is decorated in one color, enhancing audience conentration on the motion itself.”

In 1961 7 theatres had been reconverted to SUPER-CINERAMA theaters:

Atlanta-Martain CINERAMA Brussels-Varieties Copenhagen-Kinopalet Lima-Republica Los Angeles-Warner CINERAMA New York-Loew’s CINERAMA Washington, D.C.-Uptown

14 newly constructed SUPER-CINERAMA theaters:

Boston-Commonwealth Chicago-Martin CINERAMA (never built as far as I know, to bad) Denver-Cooper CINERAMA Houston-Boone Minneapolis-Cooper CINERAMA New Orleans-Martin CINERAMA Omaha-Cooper CINERAMA Paris-Empire Abel Gance San Antonio-Martin CINERAMA San Diego-L&G CINERAMA San Francisco-Martin CINERAMA Seattle-Martin CINERAMA St. Louis-Martin CINERAMA (“to have screen using three walls”) Toronto-To be named

So thats a total of 21 SUPER-CINERAMA theatres, counting those that might not have got built.

That brings us to 104 CINERAMA theatres in 1961.

When “ITS A MAD WORLD” came out I was excited to see it without those darn two lines on the screen at the Loew’s CINERAMA in New York. If I understand it right 70mm CINERAMA had to mask a lot of the sides of the screen and at the top! I guess I got cheated, bring back the lines and the full screen. What good is wall to wall, ceiling to floor screen if its been masked off? So much for SUPER-CINERAMA theaters!

“KRAKATOA: EAST OF JAVA” in SUPER-CINERAMA, how much of the screen did that fill? I think its all a lot of fluff, like cotton candy!

CSWalczak on June 11, 2012 at 2:28 am

The answer to your question is that would have varied from Cinerama theater to Cinerama theater depending on specific screen sizes and dimensions, masking, projection lenses, and aperture plates. These varied quite a bit.

“Krakatoa” was shot using mixture of Super Panavision 70 and Todd-AO cameras and would have had a printed image ratio of 2:20 to 1 (meaning that the image was slightly more than twice as wide compared to the images’s height), identical to “2001” or “Grand Prix”.

Compare that to, say, “It’s a Mad…World” or “Khartoum” which were shot in Ultra Panavision 70 which produced an image with a ratio of 2.76 to 1 (which begins to approach an image which is almost three times as wide as it is high). Most presentations masked the image down to about 2.5 to 1 to avoid having to install wider screens.

So – in general – assuming we are talking about a theater where the images of “It’s a Mad…World” filled the whole screen left to right with no side masking used and no image cropping via a modified projector aperture plate, the images from “Krakatoa” would occupy somewhat less screen real estate in terms of image width.

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on June 11, 2012 at 9:03 am

Well all this Cinerama information is certainly exciting! This may either help or add to the confusion. At the Palace in Tampa all films in 70mm were presented with the screen masked approximately 10 to 12 feet on both sides and no masking at the top. The films were “Grand Prix” “Circus World” “2001” “Ice Station Zebra” “Krakatoa” and “Song of Norway.”

There were two exceptions: the 70mm engagements of “Mad Mad World” in 1963 and “Sound of Music” in 1965. I remember both films being projected from the Cinerama booth on the main level (just like the others) but the screen was masked not only on both sides but at the top as well. This is the same screen size that was used whenever 35mm scope films were projected from the old upstairs booth.

When “Sound of Music” returned in 1973 in 70mm, the top masking was removed but the sides remained masked. The image filled the screen ceiling-to-floor and out to the side maskings. But I never understood why the top of screen was masked for the 1965 engagement and the masking removed for the 1973 engagement if both engagements were in 70mm. I recall Michael Coate had commented on this awhile back saying it may be due to the theatre honoring their Cinerama licensing agreement by not utilizing the full Cinerama screen for a non-Cinerama film in 1965. This sounds like the most logical answer.

“Mad Mad World” was filmed in Ultra-Panavision but does anyone recall it being advertised as Cinerama? I could have sworn it was but now I don’t see the Cinerama logo on any of the posters online I’ve looked at.

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on June 11, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Clarification on my comment above: “screen masked approximately 10 to 12 feet on both sides”. I meant to say 10 to 12 feet inward from the original masking for 3-strip projection."

CSWalczak on June 11, 2012 at 5:19 pm

The amount of top masking required in any particular theater when showing any film in 70mm would vary depending on the actual height of the screen in most cases.

According to the information on the Roland Lataille’s website about Cinerama theaters, the screen at the Tampa Palace was 75 feet wide and 32 feet high (and had a true Cinerama deep curve of 146 degrees). That would mean, if my math is right, that the unmasked screen would have a ratio of 2.34 to 1. So, the side masking you referred to makes perfect sense; the five films you mentioned beginning with “Grand Prix” would have had image ratios of 2.20 to 1 which would mean that without the side masking, there would have been white space left and right of the image if the screen had not been masked.

I am a little puzzled though as to why side masking was used on “It’s a Mad…World” (I am not though for the SOM, as that too would have a 2.20 to 1 aspect ratio if a 70mm print was shown). Projecting “Mad World” would have presented a different problem: the full projected images of those films would have been too wide for that screen, even with the screen full open. Perhaps a decision was made to standardize the projected width of all 70mm films shown there at the Palace, perhaps using a modified aperture plate as well as the side masking.

Regarding the “Sound of Music” situation you describe: I am wondering if the explanation could be found in a comment made by a Nunzienick on August 30, 2009 at 8:27 pm on the Palace’s page here on CT that indicates that the mid-1960s initial long run of the SOM at the Tampa Palace was in 35mm, (if it was, then it was no doubt a 35mm anamorphic print). If the 1965 run of the SOM was in 35mm rather than 70mm, then top masking would certainly have had to be used; the aspect ratio would have been 2:35 to 1 so the image would have filled the screen side to side but not top to bottom as 35mm images are only four sprocket holes tall as opposed to 70mm images which are six or nearly six sprocket holes tall.

If the 1965 run used a 70mm print, I can still think of a possible explanation for the top masking, but it is only a speculation and would require a fairly lengthy discussion, even longer than this one.

Finally, “Mad World” was indeed promoted as being presented in Cinerama in its initial roadshow runs; it was the first film shown the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood; I still have my souvenir program proudly announcing, “Stanley Kramer presents in Cinerama “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” with a whole page in it proudly announcing the “technological breakthrough” of single lens Cinerama projection.

Here is a webpage from the Widescreen Museum website showing a poster promoting the film; it’s identical to the LP album cover of the original soundtrack in my collection. As Martin Hart points out, when the film went into general release, all they did was print new posters without the Cinerama logo.

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on June 11, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Thanks CSWalczak for your extremely detailed explanation which clears up a couple of things. Nunzienick is actually me. When CT changed over to the redesigned website my ID username/nickname began appearing on several of my posts but it has since been changed back.

Regarding my posting on the 1965 initial run of “Sound of Music” as being in 35mm—I only assumed it was 35mm due to the screen which was masked for 35mm anamorphic. A former operator friend who had done some relief work at the Palace later told me if the film was being projected from the Cinerama booth then it had to be a 70mm print as those projectors ran 70mm only. I had wrongly assumed the projectors in the Cinerama booth were also capable of showing 35mm.

I saw the film a total of 7 times at the Palace in 1965-66 (plus two additional times when it was re-released in 1973.) I still have the ticket stubs. On my initial two or three viewings I recall the image being bright and sharp with a richly defined clarity, and no noticeable grain. Also the soundtrack was in stereo. I think it was around my 4th visit when I noticed it was no longer being projected from the Cinerama booth but rather from the old 35mm booth upstairs. The masking did not change at all. I did notice the onscreen image was now slightly more grainy, and not quite as sharp as it had been before. And the soundtrack was no longer in stereo.

So for whatever reason after several weeks of showings in 70mm a decision was made to exchange the print for a 35mm print and project it from the upstairs booth. I’m venturing to guess that a good majority of the audience who were repeat viewers (and there were thousands of them) more than likely didn’t notice the difference in picture & sound quality but I certainly did.

Thanks also for the info & link on “Mad World.” I had almost forgotten about the soundtrack album I have. I just checked and it does have the Cinerama logo. As for the projected 70mm width you’re probably correct in guessing that management probably made the decision to standardize all 70mm films with side maskings.

CSWalczak on June 12, 2012 at 12:00 am

You are very welcome, Nick. Actually, I think you are most likely correct and your friend was incorrect about the ability to project 35mm from the Cinerama booth.

The vast majority of theaters that showed 70mm Cinerama used Phillips Norelco DP 70s (also known AA IIs). There were some Century JJs in use and possibly a few Bauer U2s. But all of these were capable of showing both 70mm and 35mm. The listing of DP 70s on the website does not show any DP 70s used at the Tampa Palace, so I would think the 70mm projectors there were most likely Century JJs.

What I am now wondering though is whether, instead of using a 70mm print at the outset, the initial print shown at the Tampa Palace may have been one of the 35mm anamorphic prints with four track magnetic stereo; there were some of these struck (see below). That might well explain why, when the switch was made to projection from the upstairs booth, there was no change in the masking. Initially, the Cinerama booth may have had to be used because the projectors there would have had magnetic sound heads which those in the upstairs booth most likely did not.

If the run did in fact start with a 70mm print, then the top masking may well have been he result of Cinerama requiring the screen to be masked down. The switch to a 35mm anamorphic print later though would been the result of the fact that 35mm image was not as tall as that from the 70mm print; essentially the 35mm images reduced from the original 70mm Todd-AO elements were identical to CinemaScope images.

The fact that you say that the sound went from stereo to mono almost certainly means that the later-used 35mm print had an optical soundtrack instead of the six-track magnetic soundtracks on the original 70mm prints or the four-track magnetic 35mm prints. If the information on the IMdB is correct with regard to the SOM’s audio, there were some stereo 35mm prints made (probably a mix-down to four magnetic tracks with some image reduction to accommodate them), but most of the 35mm prints were, in fact, mono.

I am a bit surprised though that images you saw later in the run were noticeably more grainy; normally, 35mm prints reduction printed from 70mm elements are very sharp.

The switch to a 35mm print was probably both for economic and practical reasons. Properly projecting 70mm requires highly skilled projectionists even when they are using such a superb machine as the DP 70. Switching over to a standard 35mm print could easily have meant that the projection crew could now be less sophisticated or experienced (i.e., paid less), and I would think the studio would have charged less of a rental for a 35mm print with optical sound. If management really thought moviegoers would not notice the downgrade in terms of both picture quality and sound, I would imagine that it would have made the switch. But obviously you noticed the difference, and I certainly would have too.

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on June 12, 2012 at 11:35 pm

Thanks again CSWalczak. Appreciate your additional info. and effort to help determine which format SOM was initially projected in. I had almost forgotten about the ad for the re-release of “2001” when it played at the Palace in 1970. The newspapers carried a blurb at the bottom of ad that mentions the projector model and screen size.

As stated in the ad, “you will see 2001 projected from the Century precision model projectors.” You guessed correctly! At least this verifies the booth had Century machines. Since these are capable of projecting both formats I guess this is no indication of the format SOM was projected in. This will probably remain a mystery for all time.

The machines in the booth upstairs were definitely not equipped with magnetic sound heads. Several roadshow attractions that played at the Palace were projected from this booth and none were ever presented in stereo. Cleopatra, Dr. Zhivago, Ryan’s Daughter are just a few of the many big attractions projected from the upstairs booth with an optical track.

Another thing I noticed when SOM was projected from upstairs was occasional distortion in the sound. During the main titles while the overture plays the soundtrack was slightly distorted during high passages. This was also very noticeable when Julie hit her very high notes. The treble speaker horn may have been the culprit. There had been no sound distortion with the prior print probably because other speakers were being utilized for the Century machines.

Your comment regarding the switch to 35mm requiring a less skilled less sophisticated crew makes sense. Management obviously realized they had a huge winner on their hands with SOM. After months and months of sold-out showings and crowds continuing to fill the house with no end in sight, management must have figured the huge savings they could reap by exchanging the 70 print for a 35 thus reducing the expense of both print and crew. Since the screen size wouldn’t have to be compromised their reasoning was probably who would notice the difference anyway? This could very well have been the reason for the switch!

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on June 13, 2012 at 12:26 pm

I had live visual contact with the marquee of this theatre 48 years ago. While vacationing in New Orleans in the summer of 1964, my uncle picked us up one evening and drove us across town to my aunt’s house. Driving on Interstate 10 I remember seeing the lit marquee of the Martin Cinerama Theatre off the Interstate as we passed by. “Circus World” was the Cinerama engagement playing at the time. As eager as I was to see both the theatre and the film I never had the chance during my vacation there.

CSWalczak on June 13, 2012 at 1:53 pm

This webpage from Roland Lataille’s site has pictures of the Martin Cinerama in New Orleans.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on June 15, 2012 at 2:03 pm

I don’t know about New Orleans, but in some cities the booth unions insisted on a crew of two for 70mm. This could have been the reason the Palace switched to 35mm?

Thanks again Michael, look at the interesting coments you generate!

Jvmills on December 19, 2015 at 1:25 am

Back in the day, 1969, the TransLux had the largest screen of any theater I have ever been to. It was extremely wide, taking up almost the entire back wall. There was stadium type seating, but very comfortable. I watched Little Big Man, Krakatoa East of Java and Ice Station Zebra at this place. Was a beautiful theater and I have many fond memories of going there when I was a kid. I even went there once when it became an adult theater In The 80’s.

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