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CINERAMA ADVENTURE is a feature length documentary chronicling the amazing history of the long lost three-camera, three-projector cinematic process which thrilled millions around the world in the 1950s and early 60s. It all began in 1942 with a virtual reality training device that was credited with saving over 350,000 lives during the war effort. Unlike the 3-D fads of the early 1950s, Cinerama enjoyed a steady 14 year reign, ultimately playing in over 200 specially equipped theatres in most major cities around the globe. These wildly popular, "Wonder Hunting" Cinerama productions were almost always listed within the top ten box office grossing films of the year with two titles landing in first place.

Though abandoned in 1966, the Cinerama process still brings back fond, and sometimes passionate, memories to millions of Baby Boomers - of sweeping aerials, world travel, thrilling roller coaster rides, and other virtual reality experiences designed to lift the audience out of their theatre seats and into the action. Practically forgotten for over 36 years, these films have been recently discovered, almost intact, in an obscure Hollywood vault. The documentary provides an in-depth revelation of the struggle to launch the groundbreaking widescreen process, which first incorporated stereophonic "Surround" sound and was far ahead of its time. In 1952 Cinerama single-handedly brought Hollywood to its knees and led the film industry into the widescreen - stereo sound era.

Cinerama story is told with all the same action, adventure and thrills found in the Cinerama movies themselves, as well as through the words of the surviving people who lived it. Over forty original crew members, celebrities and film historians have been interviewed. A wide selection of never before seen film clips, photos, and crew members' home movies help to illustrate the dramatic rise and fall of this era. Cinerama Adventure takes you behind the scenes for the human interest stories of the trials and triumphs that were involved in making these films; stories of hair-raising danger, international intrigue, critical injury and death. The Cinerama crews were sparked by their need to capture something unusual and different, a form of total cinema imagery that was neither seen nor experienced by an audience before.

After Cinerama won prizes in several international trade fairs of the 1950s, the Russians promptly invented a Cinerama of their own, calling it, Kinopanorama. The Soviets claimed they had invented the process first and that America had stolen it. A cold war rivalry in widescreens ensued, as the two competing systems struggled to outdo each other in cinematic thrills.

The first Cinerama theatrical features were travelogue adventures which became unparalleled box office hits. Even though they played in only a few exclusive locations, their audience attendance rivaled - and often surpassed - those of the Hollywood films produced in that era. The first production, This Is Cinerama, became the number one box office film hit of the entire year after playing for three months in only one Broadway theatre. All but two of the Cinerama films that followed were listed within the top ten box office blockbusters of their years. Struck by Cinerama's success, the major Hollywood studios developed widescreen systems of their own. This widescreen revolution introduced CinemaScope, VistaVision, Technirama and Superscope, which all were eventually eclipsed by Panavision.

In 1961 the unique magic of Cinerama was first applied to storytelling in a partnership with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The result was The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm and How The West Was Won, the latter becoming the number one box office champ of 1962. Unfortunately, due to the expense of conventional Hollywood production in the process, as well as the technical restrictions imposed on the filmmakers, the bottom line prevailed and How The West Was Won, was the last true Cinerama feature. Cinerama lived on in a 70mm version for seven more years. While the familiar Cinerama name and logo survived into the 1970s with such popular films as It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Grand Prix, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, the immersive depth of true three-strip Cinerama was lost.


To simulate the Cinerama experience for Cinerama Adventure, a special three-panel telecine process was developed by video and film expert Greg Kimble. The technique is used to transfer the original 35mm 3-strip camera negatives onto digital video. This video then goes into a graphics workstation for the blending and curving of the images. Pacific Theatres Corporation is the owner of the Cinerama assets and has given the film makers the rights to use clips from these films exclusively in this documentary.

Over 63 hours of interviews were shot with people involved in the eight true Cinerama films, or with their surviving sons and daughters. The interviews took place over three years in 14 locations in the United States, England, Norway and Ireland. The resulting wealth of material was enough to make a feature documentary, with plenty left over for supplemental elements on a DVD.


The audience for Cinerama Adventure would initially consist of the millions of people who remember seeing the process in its heyday. Baby Boomers who were taken as children to see the popular Cinerama shows of the 50s and 60s would be a large part of this demographic, as well as their parents who took them. Anyone interested in motion picture history, showmanship and technology will find the subject fascinating. This project would be a natural for distribution to all the classic movie channels, Discovery and History type channels, as well as PBS. Foreign interest would be strong as well. The Cinerama process was very big in Europe, with over 27 large theatres playing to capacity crowds in the mid 1950s to early 1960s..

Recently the Seattle Cinerama Theatre has undergone a complete restoration under the leadership of Cinerama fan & noted Baby Boomer, Paul G. Allen, co-founder of Microsoft. This multi-million dollar restoration has included the installation of the historic three-projector process and its deeply curved screen. Pacific Theatres has announced their intentions to bring true Cinerama to Hollywood's popular Cinerama Dome for periodic revivals.

As the celebrated Cinerama film process makes its way back onto select theatre screens to thrill a new generation, Cinerama Adventure explains how and why it was special, placing this unique American phenomenon into clear historical perspective.

Critic’s quotes for Cinerama Adventure


“Superb, full of humor, drama and genuine pathos, a surprisingly human tale”

Bruce Handy, Vanity Fair


“Not a beat seems to have been missed”

Todd McCarthy, Daily Variety


“A fascinating chronicle”

Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune


“Excellent documentary”

William Arnold, Seattle Post-Intelligencer


“Quite literally wonderful”

Joe Willliams, St. Louis Post Dispatch


“As much a part of 1950s film lore as Marilyn Monroe”

Jeff Westhoff, Northwest Herald


“Resistance to such first rate fun is pointless”

Robert Keser, Bright Lights Film Journal


“A rewarding documentary”

Bill Stamets, Chicago Sun Times


“A terrific piece of American nostalgia”

Michael Drakulich, The Star



The Movie Times


“Fun, fast paced atmosphere”

Dan Heaton, Playback St. Louis


“A treat for all movie buffs”

Reece Pendleton, Chicago Reader


“Invigorating documentary”

Matthew Wilder, City Pages Minneapolis


“Cinerama Adventure is a highly entertaining documentary about one of cinema’s most ambitious and controversial products.”

Collin Souter, E Film Critic




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