CINERAMA  IN WALES



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PLEASE RETURN IN THE VERY NEAR FUTURE.
Cinerama became a very popular spectacle with cinema going audiences in London, leading to a second cinema in the city being altered for Cinerama, the Coliseum theatre screened Cinerama releases alongside the Casino Cinerama cinema at the former Prince Edward Theatre, making London the only city in Europe to boast two large Cinerama venues.

In Wales, Cinerama arrived much later but when it finally arrived in 1964 the Welsh Capitol City boasted one of the biggest Cinerama venues outside London. The Park Hall Cinema was modified for Cinerama and with seating for 1,850 patrons the Park Hall Cinerama venue proved to be a great success in its early years, with the second highest grossing Cinerama venue outside London.

Although Cinerama arrived late in Wales the new venue was equipped with the original three-projector system opening with the highly popular Cinerama feature "How the West was Won", the Park Hall continued to screen almost all of the early Cinerama releases in the three strip format while most other Cinerama venues converted to the cheaper "Single Lens Cinerama" (70mm) format.

For many, Cinerama is forgotten in Cardiff and for younger generations they have no knowledge that Cardiff once played home the Britain’s second most successful Cinerama cinema.

Michael Williams recalls his early introduction to the new and exciting world of Cinerama in the Principalities Capitol city.

“Whilst surfing through the Todd AO pages the other day, I came across the sound log of the Cinerama crew whilst shooting footage for "Seven Wonders of the World" and suddenly realised that I had indeed met the Cinerama crew. Long ago 1954, when I was a thirteen years old lad entranced by the magic of Cinema Projection by my Mother who took me to the cinema on a weekly basis, I was on a trolley bus going to school one September day in 1954. It was a Saturday morning and as the bus passed Cardiff Castle I spotted a truck with "Cinerama" on it. Now, anything with Cine on it was interesting so I hopped off the bus and went back to the Castle. On entering the castle gate I noticed a group of men with a strange looking camera and bright arc lights filming some jousting knights, I hung around watching and eventually plucked up enough courage to speak to these strange speaking men. They were great and in their strange drawling voices explained to me what they were doing, much of it went over my head but I did retain the three strip bit!

After returning late to school (and getting detention) I thought greatly about this meeting, and I think it influence me greatly into going to work as a projectionist at the Olympia Cinema in Cardiff, where I worked through the conversion to show Todd-AO using those wonderful DP70's

Over the years I have seen the Cinerama but have never seen the footage I witnessed in Cardiff. I had come to believe that I had a false memory in my mind but suddenly that article brought it all back to me and I realised that I had indeed met the Cinerama crew and I CAN say "I fleetingly touched Cinerama production in Wales"

Footnote

Another coincidence, they spent their time in Cardiff staying at the Park Hotel which coincidentally would become home to Cinerama in Cardiff, The Park Hall Cinema part of the hotel, was the only Cinema in Wales to show Cinerama”

During the fifties a new attraction was added to entertain cinema audiences. Cinerama arrived in London towards the end of 1954 when the former Prince Edward/London Casino theatre was altered to house London’s first Cinerama venue with a massive 64 foot wide curved screen and the necessary three projectors housed in the original orchestra stalls.  

Cinerama became a very popular spectacle with cinema going audiences in London, leading to a second cinema in the city being altered for Cinerama, the Coliseum theatre screened Cinerama releases alongside the Casino Cinerama cinema at the former Prince Edward Theatre, making London the only city in Europe to boast two large Cinerama venues.Cinerama became a very popular spectacle with cinema going audiences in London, leading to a second cinema in the city being altered for Cinerama, the Coliseum theatre screened Cinerama releases alongside the Casino Cinerama cinema at the former Prince Edward Theatre, making London the only city in Europe to boast two large Cinerama venues.