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ArcLight Cinemas
Hollywood, California
Glenn Campbell
ArcLight Cinemas
By Bill Warren

In 1963, in just four months, Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood seemed to blow a bubble. It was the geodesically designed Cinerama Dome, the first theater in the world built from the ground up specifically for showing Cinerama movies. Ironically, the first film to be shown at the Dome was "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," which was in single-projector Cinerama (now just a very widescreen process), the first of such films. All of the Cinerama films shown there from then on were single-projector Cinerama -- that is, until 2002.

Which leads to a discussion of ArcLight, the multiplex that now includes the Cinerama Dome. When Pacific Theaters first announced their plans to build a multi-screen theater on the site, film buffs the world over feared this would mean tearing down the Dome. But the result was that the Dome was spared, even refurbished, and a multiplex was built that's surprising and worthwhile.

A 14-screen theater, the ArcLight, was built behind the Dome, which incorporated the older theater into the design. In 2002, Pacific Theaters decided to show the very first Cinerama movie at the Dome, "This Is Cinerama." It was very expensive to restore the film -- it has, after all, a total of three negatives. There has been some discussion of restoring other true Cinerama movies, but so far, apart from "How the West Was Won" (which hasn't yet shown at the Dome), none have been treated in that manner.

But the ArcLight cinemas turned out to be so responsible and, in many ways, remarkably attuned to the interests of filmgoers of Los Angeles and particularly Hollywood, that almost all buffs assume that Pacific and others will eventually show all the three-projector Cinerama movies at the Dome.

The upgrading of the Dome didn't alter the geodesic form of the building (its roof is composed of 316 hexagons), and the seating remains much the same. But the sound system has been greatly upgraded, and now features Dolby SRD Digital, six-channel sound, Dolby EX, Sony SDDS Digital six- and eight-channel sound, and DTS 35mm and 70mm sound, as well as seven-channel Cinerama Stereophonic sound. The projection set-up is a JBL system, which won a Technical Achievement Oscar this year. The original eight speakers were replaced by 44 Surround speakers. The acoustics were redesigned and upgraded as well.

Hollywood has been undergoing something of a Renaissance; the first from-the-ground-up multiplex went up on Hollywood Boulevard some years ago. But it’s a rather gaudy place – it’s been described as a “Las Vegas men’s room” – and of little appeal to those who want the best sound and picture available. The huge mall, built on the northwest corner of Hollywood and Highland, houses the Kodak Theatre, where the Oscars are now given, and also includes a good, but not outstanding, multiple set of theatres, some of which feature the now-desired stadium seating style, a highly-raked auditorium in which your knees are about at the level of the person sitting in front of you.

Haute technology is one of the Breitling’s passions. He wanted his home to be as “future-proof” as possible, despite the speed at which technology changes. Genesis Audio Video’s design team, lead by Esry, specified uniquely large conduits, which allow for the running of all of the standard speaker cables and analog interconnects. Also in the walls of this mega-condo in the sky are DVI and HDMI cables, which allow the transmission of high-resolution video and audio signals from the main systems to locations throughout the residence. The idea is that, as technology improves and develops in years and decades to come, the drywall and elaborate interior design will remain intact as Genesis upgrades the video displays, audio playback devices, DVRs, media servers, automation and more. In most home automation projects, the idea of trying to future-proof a home is discussed in the early stages, but as the budget gets more and more refined, the first place clients cut are the extra cables needed for gear that they might not own for 10 years. This was simply not the case in this penthouse condo.

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