Grand Illusion Cinema

1403 NE 50th Street,
Seattle, WA 98105

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Related Websites

Grand Illusion Cinema (Official)

Additional Info

Functions: Movies (Classic), Movies (Independent)

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 206.523.3935
Manager: 206.523.3935

Nearby Theaters

Grand  Illusion 1973

Tucked up behind a bookstore in the University District, the Grand Illusion shows a variety of films – foreign, classic, independent, etc. It opened in 1970. It seats about 70 patrons. It was a tiny screening room in the 1930’s.

Contributed by Katie Mac

Recent comments (view all 15 comments)

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on April 8, 2006 at 4:14 pm

I’m sure the late Mr. Powell and Ms. Loy would appreciate their films running alongside of a classic like Pootie Tang.

Davidfox
Davidfox on February 14, 2007 at 3:43 pm

For many years the auditorium space was occupied by a dentist’s office. The Grand Illusion was originally The Movie House, the first cinema in what became Randy Finley’s Seven Gables circuit, now part of Landmark Theaters. The current name came from Paul Doyle, who ran the cinema for 20 years before selling to a non-profit. He now owns the Columbia City Cinema in Seattle’s Rainier Valley.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on July 16, 2010 at 8:03 pm

According to this article, the theater is not doing well financially: View link

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on July 16, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Well it is a Grand Illusion.

Grand Illusion Cinema
Grand Illusion Cinema on February 16, 2013 at 7:56 pm

We’re doing fine now, thanks!

neeb
neeb on March 13, 2013 at 1:30 am

http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=7275

A bit of history as to how everything got started.

Wonder if they’ll play Inadmissible Evidence when they hit 50 years?

David_Schneider
David_Schneider on November 27, 2017 at 12:03 pm

Wow, nice article from the front page of the November 26th, 2017 Seattle Times about several of Seattle’s historic movie houses starting with the Grand Illusion, including why we go to the movies!:

https://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/movies/seattles-historic-moviehouses/

Grand Illusion Cinema
Grand Illusion Cinema on February 27, 2023 at 4:42 pm

As of January 2023 our building is for sale, likely to be razed and developed. We have a two year lease and will relocate the cinema. Until then, it’s business as usual. https://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/movies/grand-illusion-cinema-building-for-sale-in-seattles-university-district/

sjkurtz
sjkurtz on May 29, 2023 at 1:12 am

I cherish the five or six years I worked there in the early 80s, for Paul Doyle and then with/for Doug Campbell (of Bulldog News). I made a lot of long lasting friendships by letting people crash on the red mohair couch. It’s been a home for so many folks, I think the real GI will be able to transcend it’s present physical space.

David_Schneider
David_Schneider on October 28, 2023 at 12:15 pm

During several trips to Seattle starting in 2008, I visited the Grand Illusion three or four times and it became my favorite Seattle cinema for its cozy environment and interesting offerings.

When I returned to Seattle in September/October 2015 to consider moving there, I found that many of the decades-old local businesses whose presence imbued the area with a vibe of creativity I had enjoyed being in were suddenly gone and continuing to disappear, apparently due to an influx of tech industry workers and the rising rents they can afford, changing the feel of the city and my mind about living there… but at least the Grand Illusion was still there.

Reading here that the Grand Illusion will be forced to relocate, and assuming its original location will be replaced by new construction of less character, I am reminded of my disappointment. (I felt haunted into early 2017, like I had visited an old acquaintance named Seattle, and found them changing in a direction that suddenly ended what might have become a friendship.) I hope the coziness I remember will relocate with it.

This context of accelerated change inspired a song for a Seattle area band which became my “theme song” for this situation, “Gold Rush” by Death Cab For Cutie.

If I had moved to Seattle, by now I would have had enough stamps on the Grand Illusion “Cinephile Card” I still keep as a souvenir to earn a free admission.

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