The Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) has acquired the Seattle Cinerama Theater, one of the city’s most iconic movie theaters, from the estate of the late Microsoft co-founder, Paul G. Allen.
The Cinerama, which was originally built in 1963, has been a major landmark in Seattle’s entertainment industry for decades. It has undergone several renovations over the years, including a $3 million upgrade in 1998 that included the installation of a state-of-the-art sound system and a massive 90-foot screen.
According to a statement released by SIFF, the acquisition of the theater will enable the organization to expand its year-round programming and create a permanent home for its annual festival, which attracts thousands of film enthusiasts from around the world.
“We are thrilled to take on the stewardship of this iconic theater and to continue to provide the city of Seattle with a state-of-the-art venue for cinematic experiences,” said Sarah Wilke, Executive Director of SIFF. “We look forward to programming diverse and exciting films, as well as continuing to foster a vibrant film community in the Pacific Northwest.”
The acquisition of the Cinerama comes at a time when many traditional movie theaters are struggling to survive in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the rise of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, many moviegoers have opted to watch films from the comfort of their own homes, making it increasingly difficult for theaters to compete.
However, the Cinerama has managed to maintain a loyal following over the years thanks to its unique experience and commitment to providing a premium cinematic experience.
“We are excited to see the Seattle Cinerama continue to be a center for cinematic art and culture under the stewardship of SIFF,” said Jody Allen, co-founder of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. “Paul would be proud to know that the theater he cared so deeply about will continue to serve as a vibrant cultural institution in the city he loved.”
The acquisition of the Seattle Cinerama Theater is just the latest move by SIFF to expand its presence in the Pacific Northwest. In recent years, the organization has launched a number of new initiatives, including a year-round screening series, a virtual cinema program, and a program to support emerging filmmakers in the region.