Cinerama could get $2M in public money, will likely reopen with new name

Jul 27, 2023, 8:12 AM | Updated: 10:34 am

cinerama name reopen...

At opening night for the 49th Annual Seattle International Film Festival, SIFF Executive Director Tom Mara made the announcement the theater has been acquired by SIFF from the estate of Paul Allen. (KIRO 7 News)

(KIRO 7 News)

The long-awaited reopening of Cinerama movie theater could get a boost from the Seattle and King County Councils, but it may not be “Cinerama” anymore.

The nonprofit Seattle International Film Festival acquired the theater earlier this year after a three-year closure.

More from Seattle cinema: Cinerama sold to Seattle International Film Festival, scheduled to reopen later this year

Now The Seattle Times reported City Councilmember Andrew Lewis and King County Councilmember Joe McDermott are proposing separate grants to support it. These grants total around $2 million.

This funding is crucial to open the Cinerama to the public in 2023.

“The Cinerama offers the greatest movie-going experience in the entire Pacific Northwest,” Lewis said. “With the Cinerama in non-profit ownership for the first time in its history, these exciting new partnerships to benefit the entire community are now possible.”

Cinerama opened in 1963 but fell into disrepair, and by the late 1990s, the theater was in danger of being demolished until Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen bought and restored the theater.

The theater shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic. In accordance with Allen’s wishes, the Seattle Cinerama Theater was set to be sold, with all estate proceeds dedicated to philanthropy. 

However, the name of the theater is still in question because the rights to “Cinerama” did not carry over to the sale.

SIFF said that the theater is scheduled to reopen later this year under a new name and become the fourth venue run by SIFF, alongside the SIFF Film Center, SIFF Cinema Uptown, and the SIFF Cinema Egyptian.

More from Seattle cinema: Seattle takes big step in hopes of luring more film, TV productions to city

“SIFF is honored that this space, which has provided a truly powerful experience for filmmakers and film lovers alike, is now in our hands. These funds make it possible for us to open the theater’s doors to the public as soon as possible” said Tom Mara, SIFF Executive Director. “We’re very eager to see the seats full again and to elevate what this space can do for artists, theater-goers, and the city at large.”

The theater aims to reopen this fall — but there’s no official timeline yet.

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Cinerama could get $2M in public money, will likely reopen with new name