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Cinema distances

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  • Cinema distances

    Hi All

    First time poster here

    Can anyone tell me the average screen width when showing a widescreen film and an academy aspect film, and distance from the center front row circle to the screen in a cinema prior to 70's tripling of a typical ABC or Odeon cinema as found on many UK high streets ?

    If anyone can help that would be great

    Many thanks

  • #2
    Really there was no such thing as a "typical" circuit cinema, they came in all shapes and sizes. The width of the screen was related to the width of the proscenium opening. In the days of Academy ratio, the screen was set well back on the stage surrounded by legs and borders with the screen tabs in front of it, while the front tabs closed across the proscenium opening itself. When CinemaScope arrived, the new screen frames were situated as far forward as possible, for sightline reasons, and the front tabs became the screen tabs. Sometimes the first few rows of the front stalls seating had to be removed because the viewing angle to the top of the screen was too acute. The reference to "widescreen" could be misleading. In cinema terms "widescreen" means non-anamorphic 1.75:1 ratio projection. 2.35:1 anamorphic is "Scope". The new screens had variable side masking to achieve the appropriate ratio. While many cinemas built in the thirties had wide prosceniums which allowed decent sized 'Scope screens to installed (40ft plus was typical), in some places narrow prosceniums caused problems which either required structural alterations or sometimes putting a wider screen forward of the old proscenium. Sometimes, however, the only (or at least cheapest) option was to use a constant width screen with variable top masking which was dropped to create the correct 'Scope ratio, but resulted in a much smaller picture area than the standard screen.
    As regards the 1970's triplings, bear in mind that most Odeons (and some ABCs) used the cheap and cheerful "drop wall" system which resulted in the circle becoming screen one, with no discernible difference to when the cinema was a single screen.


    • #3
      Also, you're asking about seats in the circle. Not all cinemas have a circle



      • #4

        Thanks to both of you for taking time to reply, I do understand not all cinemas had circles, my local Granada did not so I used to like to go the ABC that did.

        I asked the questions 'cos I want to have a go at making a 3D cutaway model of a cinema. The info on screens was interesting my Granada had side masks, come to think of it it also had an organ in what had been a band pit covered in a black cloth but looking over into the pit the foot peddles could be seen sticking out from under the cloth.

        So If I went for a screen width of say 50ft that would be a start so now all I need to know is a distance from front center circle to the screen. I guess really I need to find a plan of a cinema

        Thanks again for replying


        • #5
          I suggest you contact the archivist of the Cinema Theatre Association.They have original plans of cinemas in their archive


          • #6
            Great idea, many thanks email sent