Operation of a Cinerama theatre was an expensive proposition. Three projectionists closely monitored their third of the screened image. Another projectionist was in charge of the sound reproducer, and during the early years a "Cinerama Engineer" monitored the show and controlled the synchronization of projectors and sound, screen brightness, focus and framing. His instructions were fed to each of the three booths via intercom.
Going to a Cinerama attraction wasn't going to the movies. It was... well, it was going to Cinerama. The public never confused it with CinemaScope, VistaVision, or any of the other systems adopted by the film studios. Cinerama was an event. Just getting to a Cinerama theatre meant extra effort and expense, and the theatres did not let their patrons down.
The Cinerama Excursion Train carried passengers to St. Louis, Missouri's Ambassador Theatre to see Cinerama. Schools made special field trips to Cinerama. And it didn't really matter what was running. It was Cinerama! This type of exclusive roadshow treatment was reenacted at every Cinerama theatre around the world.
Once at the theatre you are greeted by uniformed doormen, the manager in tuxedo, and led to your reserved seats by an attractive uniformed usherette. Naturally you were dressed in your Sunday best, even if it was Wednesday. Pay no attention to the above photo, those curtains stayed closed until after the overture concluded , and they only opened up enough to allow the standard size prologue be visible. When the full three projector image began, those curtains opened, and opened, and opened. Forget about buying popcorn during intermission, there wasn't any to be had. You also consumed your drinks in the lobby as they were not allowed in the fully carpeted auditorium. This was no trip to the Bijou. And ticket prices weren't in the Bijou category either. The $3.50 ticket price for the most expensive seat was roughly equivalent to $45.00 today. Somehow the public never left the building feeling cheated.
Cooper Cinerama Theatre, opened in 1961, the first of nearly 100 theatres
built or modified to showcase the virtues of the Cinerama system.