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Ten years after taking over Capitol Hill’s Egyptian Theatre, 49th Seattle International Film Festival kicks off with announcement SIFF is reopening the Cinerama

(Image: SIFF)

As its venues including Capitol Hill’s Egyptian Theatre begin hosting the 2023 Seattle International Film Festival, cinema nonprofit SIFF has announced it is adding the city’s grandest silver screen to its family.

“We’ve acquired the Seattle Cinerama Theater from the estate of Paul G. Allen and will be reopening later this year,” the organization announced before Thursday’s opening night of the 49th edition of the festival. “This acquisition adds to our current venue offerings: SIFF Film Center, SIFF Cinema Uptown, and SIFF Cinema Egyptian. We look forward to stewarding this historic venue for magical moviegoing experiences well into the future—with all of you.”

SIFF’s hopes for the 4th Ave venue will include the blockbuster screenings the theater has been known for including “a lot of bigger-budget, first-run studio films, a lot of specialty events and festivals, and hopefully a lot of special events focusing on filmmakers,” the Seattle Times reports.

The chocolate popcorn is also coming back. But the Cinerama name is not. The Allen ownership only licensed the name and that ends with the deal. SIFF said a new name is in the works.

The venue also used for corporate gatherings and film events has been closed since 2020 when it shuttered during pandemic restrictions.

Terms of the deal were not included in the announcement. SIFF says it is mounting a capital campaign to help cover the costs. It also has additional financial decisions to make about its venues. Its 2014 deal to take over the Egyptian included a 10-year lease with Seattle Central with options for five-year extensions.

Meanwhile, the 49th SIFF is underway with screenings across the organization’s venues including at E Pine’s Egyptian. A highlight for the Egyptian in this year’s festival comes on Tuesday as the historic venue as Seattle DJ NicFit provides a live soundtrack to accompany the 1996 cult classic The Craft, “about a coven of teen witches.”

Learn more at siff.net.

 

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Fred Mcdaniels
1 year ago

great news!

Pete
Pete
1 year ago

Not sure how they are funded but owning two cinemas seems a lot of $$. I find it hard to imagine that Allen envisioned all of his life’s work being closed down when he died.

Allan
Allan
1 year ago
Reply to  Pete

I too have noticed Allen’s passion projects closing down, one by one. He had no spouse, no children, and left most things to his sister, who doesn’t seem to share his passion for much of anything he was passionate about. I have noticed a pattern where management of his stuff gets farmed out to professional management companies who run them at a disinterested but profitable arms’ length. Then they become hugely unprofitable (some may have been only marginally profitable ever at best). Then they get dismantled and/or sold off to collectors. I have seen this with his ‘Flying Heritage Collection’ of vintage WWII aircraft, Cinerama, and his art collection. I heard it on good authority that she is no longer involved with Mo’Pop’s management,so that is good IMO. Mo’Pop will sink or swim on its own, out of Jody’s reach.

Lola
Lola
1 year ago

This makes me so happy. I hope it works out well.

First Hill dweller
First Hill dweller
1 year ago

Glad to hear the Cinerama will reopen. I’m looking forward to seeing movies there again.

One minor quibble with this piece: Cinerama did not “shutter during pandemic restrictions.” Vulcan closed Cinerama and laid off its staff in the first week of February 2020, before any pandemic restrictions were implemented. Only a single case of COVID had even been reported in the US at that point. There were (anonymous) allegations of mismanagement contributing to Cinerama’s closure. https://www.reddit.com/r/Seattle/comments/f20lit/cinerama_layoffs_the_untold_story/

Allan
Allan
1 year ago

@FHD You make an important point. I remember several weeks into the pandemic lockdown that when the Cinerama shuttered weeks before, it was almost like they knew the pandemic was coming…but they didn’t.

CKathes
CKathes
1 year ago

Specifically, Cinerama closed for “renovations” just before the pandemic. Later in 2020, they announced that the “renovations” (about which they had given zero progress updates) were now halted due to the virus, and the theater would remain closed indefinitely. At that point I assumed it was probably the end of the line, as did most people.