Aurora Cinema I-II-III
13000 Linden Avenue N.,
3 people favorited this theater
Previously operated by: General Cinema Corp.
Architects: William C. Riseman
Firms: William Riseman Associates
Previous Names: Aurora Cinema I & II
A plain no-frills William Riseman design, built as a twin and opened April 5, 1975 with Walt Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” + “Stormy” and “The Sting”. Seating was provided for 625 and 425. The larger theatre was split in 1977 resulting in two badly proportioned screening rooms. It closed in 2002 and was demolished in around 2005.
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Recent comments (view all 12 comments)
The cinema was demolished in 2006 and is the site of a big condo project. It was a pretty dreadful theater even when it was new. No masking, so flat films showed centered on a wide, white screen. (Masking was added in its final years). The design was so poor that when GCC was forced to add stereo to its one remaining large house in order to play “Return of the Jedi” it had to position the left and right speakers outside the perimeter of the screen (as it also did at Everett Mall).
I saw more movies at the old Aurora Cinema than any other theater in Seattle! Back in 1981 (when movies were still worth going to) I must have seen 10 movies that year alone at the AC! It’s funny some people don’t care for this theater because I thought it was a COOL theater! In 1987, I saw PREDATOR 3 times there!
Did you go out each time and buy a ticket,or hang around inside until the next show started up.
This opened on April 5th, 1975. Grand opening ad posted.
I have to agree with the “pretty dreadful” comment above. I worked here from time to time as a fill in projectionist from about 1982 – 1986. The lead projectionist at the time was the Business Agent for IATSE Projectionist Local 154 and frequently had to take time off for Union duties. I last worked here as temporary replacement for about 3 months in the late Summer and early Fall of 1995. It was my last employment with General Cinema.
When opened, the projectionists were: Thomas Watters, Jr, George Worst, and Jack Bostock. George and Jack passed away years ago and Tommy passed away on July 28, 2016. Tommy was the Business Agent for IATSE Projectionists Local 154 from 1968 until his retirement in 1999. He left the Aurora Cinema and went to the Oak Tree Cinema in 1986.
The Oak Tree was a real step up. Still one of the best theatres in Seattle. Hope it has a long life ahead. Very well maintained and big screens and good sound.
I never saw this theater of course, but from the comments above I know exactly what it looked like. All GCC builds from 1968-78 had that same bleak red white and pale blue look. Couple that with those two position seats, long thin center aisle auditoriums with windowboxed screens and you had the ultimate in bland movie going experience.
Since most of these were new builds, often in free standing buildings I could never understand why they insisted on long, thin houses that had the center aisle taking up the prime seating / viewing area. Why not put the seats in the middle and run the aisles down the sides? The fake drape sound absorbing walls were painted light grey instead of dark and always resulted in a distracting reflective glare. Those awful seats always made me feel like I needed to brace myself against the seat in front to keep from sliding forward. And, I can not recall how many times someone rang the booth to tell me that the picture was off. The public, not knowing the difference between flat and scope was always complaining about the flat picture on that unmasked scope screen thinking that I was not showing the entire image.
The larger auditoriums, like the #1 house here apparently, which had a center seating section, were soon ruined by twinning which resulted in even worse looking theaters with terrible presentation. I never saw exposed front speakers (when Dolby was added they at least got our three placed behind the screen) but the surround speakers were a waste of time since all they added was noise. The houses were far too long and thin for proper stereo. And of course the worst sin of all, being a Pepsi bottler, they served Pepsi products. I had to bring my own Cokes to work with me.
I never could understand why a company with all that money and designing theaters from a clean sheet of paper could to come up with a better product.
I agree with what Stan has said above, especially the Coke/Pepsi comment as I did the same. I am not sure if it was in the terms of the lease for this property or perhaps this was one of the few GCC owned rather than leased buildings but cinema staff was responsible for parking lot cleaning and maintenance. I have memories of staff repainting the white lines between parking spaces during the down time when all three shows were in. It was not the quickest (or the neatest) way for sure. Paint for a few minutes and then clean up and serve customers for a bit and then back outside to paint. I’m glad I was in the booth and did not have any part of this project.
Also, the Street View image of this theater is about 5 blocks off. Aurora Cinema was a few steps from the corner of 130th and Linden. The back side of the building faced Linden, the entrance was on the East side and faced Aurora Avenue. Parking was to the South and East of the building. There is a large apartment complex on the site today.