SIFF announced its acquisition of the Seattle Cinerama Theater from the estate of Paul G. Allen. The announcement was made by SIFF Executive Director Tom Mara during the Opening Night celebration of the 49th Annual Seattle International Film Festival, which runs through 21 May. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.
“We are honored to take on stewardship of this historic theater. It’s a film venue adored by the community and speaks to the critical role SIFF plays in bringing the power and art of film to diverse audiences across our region,” said Mara. “So many of us have experienced the magic of this theater, and we are excited to carry on the vision and impact that Paul Allen started so many years ago.”
The venue first opened in 1963 to great fanfare but went into disrepair and by the late 1990s was in danger of being demolished. Investor and philanthropist Paul G. Allen purchased and restored the theater, creating an unmatched destination for blockbuster movies, independent film, and a variety of film festivals and events. The venue closed in 2020 and remained shuttered during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pursuant to Allen’s wishes, the Seattle Cinerama Theater was earmarked to be sold with all estate proceeds dedicated to philanthropy.
SIFF will reopen the theater later this year under a new name. It will become the fourth venue run by the nonprofit organization, alongside SIFF Film Center at Seattle Center, SIFF Cinema Uptown, and SIFF Cinema Egyptian—all of which offer experiences that bring people together to discover extraordinary films from around the world.