|Matt Lutthans photographed by Jan Niebuhr|
My connection to the Cinerama now is non-existent. In 1997, I co-founded the Cinerama Society of Seattle, a non-profit group whose aim was to save the building. At that time, Cineplex-Odeon had the lease on the building, and it was about to expire, so we were pushing to find somebody to lease the space to keep it from becoming an apartment complex or something. When it became apparent that no other operators were interested in leasing it, our group began to negotiate for a lease and was selling t-shirts, taking donations, etc., to raise funds. In the process, one of our posters wound up in a Seattle video store called "Videophile," where my friend Craig Hyland works. (Jan met Craig when we went to Bruce Lee's grave site.)
Paul Allen of Microsoft was in the store and saw the poster, asked some questions, and began to check into buying the building to preserve it, which is what eventually transpired. (Sadly, I really can't stand what he did to the building, but that's another story altogether.) Since then, I have been a projectionist at Cinerama shows in Seattle and Los Angeles, and also provided historical display materials at the 3-strip festival in Seattle. I also married my wonderful wife Jessica in the Cinerama -- the first wedding ever held there.
Also, I was heavily involved in the efforts to save the Indian Hills Cinerama in Omaha, Nebraska. A non-profit (similar to the one in Seattle) was formed there by myself, Larry Karstens of Omaha, and Rich Vincent of Denver.
Rich was the manager of the Cooper in Denver, which was an exact twin to the Indian Hills. I think I made six trips to Omaha for meetings regarding the theatre, financing, legal options, etc. When the wrecking ball hit, I literally cried, it was such a disappointment. That was the finest theatre I had ever seen in my life, and the last of its kind, and everybody involved put in so much work, and now the space is a beautifully paved, empty parking lot. Just sickening.
You should e-mail Larry and he'll be happy to send you a copy of a book he wrote about our experiences there. He's a great guy, and we are frequent house guests at each others's homes, and dear friends. He was a groomsman at my wedding, and I gave him a 16-pound 70mm Cinerama lens from 1963 as a thank you gift, custom-engraved with our names and the date of the wedding.
Outside of the realm of Cinerama, I was a band director in the public schools for 12 years, and now operate a Tutoring Club franchise in Mill Creek, Washington. If our tutoring business continues to expand, I have my eyes on a little theatre in the town of Oak Harbor, Washington. Who knows.....
|Further in 70mm reading:|
Indian Hills Cinerama
Jan Niebuhr's US tour
Brief Cinerama report from Dave Strohmaier
Seattle's Cinerama Theatre is getting technical upgrade