Cinerama-70 in Fargo

I don't remember the Cinema-70, but by the time I was old enough to become a moviegoer it had changed to a 3-screen, 35mm multiplex like all the rest in town, where I had to sit on my mom's lap for Return of the Jedi because it was so full. The theatre closed shortly after, and sat vacant for a decade, until it was torn down and turned into a parking lot for the gym next door.

In 1971, however, it was a single-screen "Cinerama 70" theatre. In the 1960s, whoever built the theatre banked on the belief that Cinerama, the wide-aspect-ratio film style popularized in the late 50s and early 60s, would be there to stay. By the 1970s Cinerama was rarely used, few studios even had equipment to film in it, and it had been bastardized from the original 3-camera setup to an anamorphic widescreen format. The Anderson Tapes was filmed on standard 35mm film with a normal aspect ratio, which left over half of a Cinerama screen unused. It's no wonder the theatre broke up their one-room schoolhouse into a three-screen theatre.

On the right-hand side of the ad, it looks like a typo, but not really: 1971 was in some of the early years of the MPAA's voluntary film rating system. "GP" was the replacement for the "M" rating, when people found the "M" and "R" ratings too hard to tell apart. "GP" meant, essentially, what "PG" means today, but too many people thought it meant "general public", thus confusing it with the "G" rating. There was just a narrow 2-year window when "GP" was used.

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Lark movie theatre ad, 1970s.

The Lark occupies the corner of Roberts Street and 1st Avenue in Fargo, one of the strange on-stilts buildings in Fargo designed to maximise parking space. The last time I was in the Lark was the Cinema Grill auction. The building had been vacant through the 1980s, but in the 90s a company reopened it as a dinner-movie-theatre. I'd seen one movie there, but that was it -- the films appeared to be VHS projections, as opposed to actual film, and the lights were up enough so you could read menus, which made the screen harder to see. The food-film experiment ended in the late 90s, and a Christian church of odd repute (when I was at the auction, the church's leader spent some time telling me how 9/11 was predicted in Scripture) held services in it, and I believe is still occupying the building. There had been rumours of that block being razed to build a sports arena -- a very bad idea in my mind -- but that's my guess as to why the Lark is still there., waiting for a developer to come along. The ad was from a Binford Guide.

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