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Kino Gartenbau, Austria
Home of 7OMM in Wien since 1960

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Thomas Hauerslev Date: 08.11.2018
Kino Gartenbau, Austria. Home of 7OMM in Wien since 1960. Click the image to see enlargement. Picture by Thomas Hauerslev

During a recent trip to Austria, my wife and I visited the Kino Gartenbau in Vienna. Geschäftsführer Norman Shetler and I had corresponded ahead of our visit, and we agreed to meet at 11 o'clock, on the 1st of November for a tour of the Gartenbau. We arrived early, and went for a walk in the Stadtpark across the road. We paid our respects to the Johann Strauß monument, and wondered what Mr. Strauß would say if he knew how famous his music have become since "2OO1: A Space Odyssey" came out in 1968.

The Kino Gartenbau opened with "Spartacus" presented in eye-pleasing Super Technirama 70 on 19. December 1960. Kirk Douglas, the star and producer of the film, attended the premiere with his wife. He was already in Austria filming another feature film. When Mr. Douglas turned 100 in 2016, the Gartenbau wrote him a birthday letter, to which he replied: "I remember the premiere at the Gartenbau very well".

• Go to the gallery: Gartenbau Kino, Vienna, Austria
More in 70mm reading:

Gallery: Kino Gartenbau, Vienna, Austria

The 7OMM Ultra Panavision Roadshow in Gartenbau Kino, Vienna, Austria

70mm Film in Gartenbau Kino

7OMM at the Gartenbau Kino

"The Hateful Eight"

DP70s in Austria

Internet link:

The Kino Gartenbau was equipped with the latest in 70mm projection extravaganza from the beginning. Two Todd-AO DP70 multi purpose projectors from Philips, serial number 2032 and 2038, and sound for 6-channel magnetic stereo reproduction. Five speakers behind the curved screen (2018: 15,45m x 6,5m for CinemaScope), and a number of effects speakers in the auditorium. The Gartenbau have 736 seats. A pair of the original seats were found on eBay a few years ago for 100 EUR, and are on permanent display. A unique feature of the original seats was the air condition system, which used the foot of each seat to remove air from the cinema, to recycle it through the ceiling.

The Gartenbau was converted to authentic 3-strip CINERAMA projection only two years after the opening. For a short 1-year season (01.11.1962 - 12.12.1963), the Gartenbau showed a number of titles, including Louis de Rochemont's "Windjammer" in Cinemiracle and "How The West Was Won" - In Cinerama. "West" played for a record of 33 weeks from
15.03.1963 (Source: THE INTERNATIONAL CINERAMA SOCIETY's Cinerama Theatre List issue 18). On 19.12.1963 the Gartenbau reverted back to 70mm projection with the premiere of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" in horizon-expanding Cinerama single lens Ultra Panavision 70. The Gartenbau continued to play 70mm prints until 1994, when "Hoffa" - the last 70mm title - premiered. The sound system was upgraded to modern 35mm digital sound standards, however, only with three screen channels behind the screen. Despite some ambitious attempts, more than 20 years would pass, before 70mm finally would make a triumphant return to the Curved Wonder of Vienna, when "The Hateful Eight" premiered in January 2016. This roadshow event required some rebuilding of the sound system by adding more screen speakers to re-install five channels behind the screen.
The big blue "KINO" letters on the facade can be seen from far away from both ends of the Parkring Street. The polished steel facade, poster displays, and light cabinets with replaceable letters is a welcoming reminder about going to the cinema in style. The Kino Gartenbau still stands, and have showed many 70mm titles since 2016, including the new 7OMM print of Stanley Kubrick's "2OO1: A Space Odyssey" in 2018. The interior still looks a lot like when it opened in 1960 we were told by Norman Shetler, the manager of the Kino. The KINO also still smell like a proper cinema. Not anything like popcorn, but of real cinema. All the seats have been changed, and the bar area has been rebuilt. The box office area also has an ambiance of original 1960s vintage style, with only delicate re-building and refurbishment. The ladies toilets are frequently used as a film set, thanks for the classic style with large mirrors and lights. Of course over the years, some things have been changed, repaired and replaced, but generally, it still looks like the day it opened.

One hour later, we said goodbye and "Thank you" to Norman for a wonderful tour of the Kino Gartenbau. We embarked on our visit through Vienna's many film sights and denkmals. One of which is the birthplace of Arthur Schnitzler, who wrote "Traumnovelle", and which was made into the film "Eyes Wide Shot" by Stanley Kubrick in 1999. After visiting the two "This is Cinerama" locations in Vienna, we had lunch at the historic Café Central where Arthur Schnitzler often had his lunch too. The next days we were looking for "The Third Man" at the Wiener Riesenrad (ferris wheel), and at his Palais Pallavicini home on Josefsplatz. Alas, he was nowhere to be found. We concluded our short Vienna visit with a traditional glass of Champagne and some Sachertorte, at the Sacher Eck in central Vienna.
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Updated 21-01-24