by Joe Kleiman, IPM Online News Editor
Sacramento, CA, USA (August 31, 2012) — The Esquire IMAX Theatre, host to next month’s Giant Screen Cinema Association International Conference, will close September 4 to add a new 24,000 watt digital sound system, 3D screen, and IMAX Digital projector. The digital projection system will be placed on rails, allowing it to be alternate in front of a larger port window, already installed, with the existing IMAX GT projector.
When it opened in 1940, the Esquire Theatre featured the tallest cinema marquee west of the Mississippi. The theater remained in operation through the 1980’s, by which time it had become a grindhouse showing Hong Kong action films. In 1999, it was reborn as an IMAX theater as part of a new office and retail development, and as a flagship to the revitalization of Sacramento’s historic K Street Mall. The origital marquee was retained, with the doors, entrance tile, and poster cases either being restored or replicated. Everything behind the facade is new construction.
The top two floors of the theater are a parking garage shared with the office building next door. Because of the need to keep the marquee as the tallest part of the structure, a unique architectural approach was taken. Instead of guests entering at the bottom of the auditorium and working their way up, as is common in stadium seating theaters, a three story pit was dug into the ground, with guests entering and exiting at the rear of the auditorium at ground level. The parking structure precluded lowering the film projector into the theater via helicopter or crane, so a two story rotunda was created to haul it up to the second floor projection booth. The rotunda remains one of the theater’s signature design features.
The Esquire IMAX Theatre opened in March 1999, showcasing the 200th IMAX projection system, and was featured in IAAPA’s Funworld magazine. The theater’s opening won both a Bronze Ring award from IAAPA and the Silver Anvil Award from the Public Relations Society of America. The Esquire IMAX Theatre, one of three theaters completely owned and operated by IMAX Corporation, will reopen to the public after the conclusion of the GSCA conference.