King County vaccination rates topping 80%? Check.

Movie theaters open across the region? Affirmative.

Big budget sci-fi epic now on screen? It’s here.

All that’s missing is Cinerama, Seattle’s premier place to watch a movie. For generations, families and film buffs caught the latest blockbuster, cult classic, or festival at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Lenora Street. Its state-of-the-art projection and immersive audio — not to mention iconic chocolate popcorn — promised an experience second to none. This was where “Star Wars” fans camped for weeks before a premiere.

Closed since the pandemic, Cinerama is in limbo. The prospect of this beloved movie house slowly decaying — or worse, going under the wrecking ball — is too horrible to contemplate. Seattle needs a hero to make this right.

The theater is owned by Vulcan, which was founded in 1986 by Paul G. Allen and his sister Jody Allen to “make and leave the world a better place.”

Allen, who died in 2018, was known for his eclectic interests and love of music, history and movies. He purchased Cinerama in 1998. First opened in 1963, it is one of the few remaining cinemas worldwide originally built to showcase three-projector Cinerama technology. It underwent major renovations in 1999, 2010 and 2014.

Where it ranks in Vulcan’s diverse portfolio today is unclear.

In May 2020, Vulcan announced that it was closing its Arts + Entertainment division, as well as its filmmaking entity, Vulcan Productions. Cinerama, which was closed for renovations, was suddenly shuttered “for the foreseeable future.”


Asked about the status of the theater last week, a spokesperson for Vulcan said there was “no news to share at this time.”

Maybe because things are slowly getting back to normal, or maybe it’s the debut of the epic adventure movie “Dune,” but now seems an opportune time to advocate for Cinerama’s resurrection.

A “Save Seattle Cinerama” petition started two weeks ago notes the theater “has been a Seattle institution for over half a century and has offered the city’s most uniquely great movie theater experience since its inception.”

With about 2,000 signatures so far, it calls for Vulcan to invest in the historic theater and get it back up and running. It also wants the Seattle Neighborhoods Department Historic Preservation Program to designate Cinerama a Seattle Landmark, protecting it from demolition.

If this isn’t something Vulcan wants to do, how about someone else giving it a try? A reluctant champion who steps in to save the day, and is owed a debt of gratitude. Sounds like a story made for the big screen.

With a grand reopening, we could mark our 2023 calendars for “Dune: Part Two” where it’s meant to be seen — Cinerama.