Show business history was made on September 30, 1952, when respected newsman and producer, Lowell Thomas announced from a standard narrow 35mm film screen "Ladies and gentlemen, this is Cinerama!" Immediately, the giant red curtain at New York's Broadway Theatre opened to expose a triple sized 97 foot-wide louvered screen and the theatre rumbled with the stereophonic sound of the legendary roller coaster ride (along with a 3 hour tour of the United States) that stunned the movie going world. The New York Times shouted the praises of Cinerama on its front page, declaring the process "the most visceral motion picture experience ever created."
Although shown in only 47 theatres, worldwide, on a reservation basis, THIS IS CINERAMA was a major cultural sensation. The film ran for two sold out years in New York City and became the number one box office hit of 1952. After 10 years of travelogues and two story films (THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM and HOW THE WEST WAS WON), the expensive and cumbersome system was shelved for a single camera/projection setup with IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD. The Cinerama name endured, with a number of hits throughout the 1960s, including 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, but by 1970 the company had declared bankruptcy and the era ended with SONG OF NORWAY, a box office disaster.