The Pacific Cinerama Dome – Hollywood’s Most Uniquely Shaped Theatre

Over the weekend Patrick and I went to see the highly anticipated Quentin Tarantino film Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, but we chose to see it at the iconic Cinerama Dome, which is used, albeit extremely briefly, in the film.

Myself, wearing a white t-shirt reading "Hollywood" in red letters, and images of the Hollywood Bowl, Farmer's Market, Grauman's Chinese Theater, and the Capitol Records Building, standing in front of the white dome that is the Cinerama building. A red, white, and blue sign reads "Pacific Cinerama Theatre.

Across the front of the Dome was a banner advertising the film 1969 Krakatoa: East of Java, but why you ask? Because that is how the Dome appeared for its cameo in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, as seen in this screencap from the trailer…

The Dome as seen in Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood, lit up at night, featuring the banner for Krakatoa East of Java. The dome is lite blue.

As you can see they did have to do some CGI work to remove the 24 Hour Fitness, Salon Republic, and Veggie Grill that are the Dome’s contemporary neighbors.

In addition to the sign, two of the cars used in the film were on display.

The Cinerama Dome, a white dome rises from the street, with a slightly textured surface. A red, white, and blue sign reads "Pacific Cinerama Theatre"

Myself, wearing a white t-shirt reading "Hollywood" in red letters, and images of the Hollywood Bowl, Farmer's Market, Grauman's Chinese Theater, and the Capitol Records Building, and tan lace up shorts, leaning against a white marble post near the front of the theatre.

A blue Karmann Ghia sits in front of the white marble box office, which was used in the film.

Myself, wearing a white t-shirt reading "Hollywood" in red letters, and images of the Hollywood Bowl, Farmer's Market, Grauman's Chinese Theater, and the Capitol Records Building, and tan lace up shorts, leaning against a white marble post near the front of the theatre.

Close-up of my shirt, which reads "Hollywood" in red letters and "California" in smaller blue letters. At the top is an illustration of Grauman's Chinese Theatre, on the left is an image of the clock tower from Farmer's Market, on the right an image of the Capitol Records building, and on the bottom the Hollywood Bowl.

Myself, wearing a white t-shirt reading "Hollywood" in red letters, and images of the Hollywood Bowl, Farmer's Market, Grauman's Chinese Theater, and the Capitol Records Building, and tan lace up shorts, standing in front of the the Dome's original box office, which is made of white marble.

An off white Cadillac Coupe De Ville, which was used in the film, sits in front of the white marble box office.

A banner reading "The NEW CINERAMA hurls YOU into the incredible day that shoot the earth to its core! You are there with the treasure hunters and love seekers locked together in fantastic adventure!" and feature black and white images of the cast.

Close-up of the unique tiles that make-up the dome.

Myself, wearing a white t-shirt reading "Hollywood" in red letters, and images of the Hollywood Bowl, Farmer's Market, Grauman's Chinese Theater, and the Capitol Records Building, and tan lace up shorts, standing in front of the the Dome's original box office, which is made of white marble.

The Cinerama Dome, a white dome rises from the street, with a slightly textured surface. A red, white, and blue sign reads "Pacific Cinerama Theatre"

Myself, wearing a white t-shirt reading "Hollywood" in red letters, and images of the Hollywood Bowl, Farmer's Market, Grauman's Chinese Theater, and the Capitol Records Building, and tan lace up shorts, leaning against a white marble post near the front of the theatre.

Designed by Welton Becket and Associates, the Pacific Cinerama Dome was originally a prototype to showcase the new Cinerama experience, which used three projectors to immerse the audience in the film, think of it as an early version of IMAX. Becoming the first theatre to be constructed in Hollywood since the Pantages in 1931, the Dome was also the first concrete geodesic dome in the world, build in just 16 weeks using 316 pentagonal and hexagonal panels that were bolted together, using the technique patented by innovator Buckminster Fuller. Originally Fuller’s design was suppose to solve the housing crisis of post-war America, but never caught on. While the Dome is iconic to LA, his most recognizable work is Spaceship Earth at EPCOT.

The Dome emerges from Sunset Boulevard standing 69 feet high, and inside it seats over 800 movie goers, although originally sat 949. The uniquely designed theatre opened on November 7, 1963 with the premiere of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, which ran for 63 weeks.

Inside the Theatre, a blue curtain hangs along the curved walls. The tiles that make up the structure are seen from within in their various shapes.

The Dome at sunset, a red, white, and blue sign reads "Pacific Cinerama Dome" The white dome is lit with red lights.

The Dome at sunset, a red, white, and blue sign reads "Pacific Cinerama Dome"

The Dome at sunset, a red, white, and blue sign reads "Pacific Cinerama Dome"

The Dome at sunset, a red, white, and blue sign reads "Pacific Cinerama Dome" The white dome is lit with red lights.

As for the movie, I absolutely loved it. I’m a picky fan of Tarantino’s work, and do not much care for is trademark over the top violence, but I think this had the least amount of violence of any of his films. Many have called Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood Tarantino’s love letter to LA, and I won’t really argue with that. The film tells a story that happened to quite a few actors, but is often overlooked in the history of Hollywood. Additionally, the film is just plain gorgeous. Tarantino and his crew did a lot of work around LA and even as far south as Tustin, making places look like they once did, and in many cases these locations are in the film for a split second, serving no purpose other than to further immerse the audience in the time period. Additionally, the film included multiple songs by one of my favorite bands, Paul Revere and the Raiders, who I blogged about not long ago, as well as one of my favorite songs, “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron” by The Royal Guardsmen. If you love LA, especially old LA, you’ll love the film.

Stay tuned for another piece of Hollywood history and Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood filming location. In the meantime, you check check out my post on El Coyote which was also used in the film.

See a movie inside this mid-century marvel at 6360 Sunset Boulevard, in Los Angeles. To see what’s playing visit Archlight’s website.

Sources
Cinerama Dome. Los Angeles Conservancy. Accessed: 29 July 2019
The Dome. Arclight Accessed: 29 July 2019
Plaques on site

Outfit
Shirt: Worn Free
Shorts & Purse: Buffalo Exchange
Shoes: Re-Mix
Turquoise: Here and there…

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