Iconic Seattle Cinema to re-open next month
After a three-year hiatus, the iconic Cinerama theater in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood is poised to reopen its doors on December 14, 2023, under the moniker SIFF Cinema Downtown. This momentous occasion will coincide with the grand premiere of Wonka, a cinematic adaptation of Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, directed by Paul King and starring Timothée Chalamet as the eccentric confectioner himself.
Tickets for the highly anticipated reopening are expected to go on sale shortly, as per the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF), the non-profit organization that acquired the theater in May 2023 from the estate of the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. SIFF Cinema Downtown, with its 570-seat capacity, aims to curate a diverse repertoire of cinematic delights, encompassing blockbuster studio releases, critically acclaimed arthouse films, and engaging specialty festivals and events.
The original Cinerama name and its licensing agreement ceased to exist following the acquisition by SIFF. According to SIFF, Allen’s Vulcan Inc. has assumed ownership of the Cinerama signage and will seek an appropriate new home for these iconic emblems.
The Cinerama theater, which initially opened its doors in 1963, just a year after Seattle hosted the World’s Fair, faced the threat of demolition in the late 1990s due to its deteriorating condition. Recognizing its cultural significance, Paul Allen stepped in to rescue the theater, investing millions of dollars to transform it into a technological marvel.
In February 2020, the Cinerama temporarily closed for routine maintenance, a process initially deemed “normal wear and tear.” However, the COVID-19 pandemic extended the closure, leading to an extended hiatus of over three years before SIFF’s acquisition. With its revival under SIFF’s stewardship, SIFF Cinema Downtown promises to reignite the passion for cinema in the heart of Seattle.