Cinerama, a widescreen cinematic process, was developed by Fred Waller of Paramount Pictures in 1932 and promoted by Hazard E. Reeves. Cinerama was first featured at the 1939 New York World's Fair as "Vitarama". In 1952, the process "Cinerama" was presented by the Cinerama (Corporation) at the Broadway Theatre in New York in a show entitled "This is Cinerama" to great acclaim. Notables attending the first performance included: New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey; violinist Fritz Kreisler; James A. Farley; Metropolitan Opera manager Rudolf Bing; NBC chairman David Sarnoff; CBS chairman William S. Paley; Broadway composer Richard Rodgers; and Hollywood mogul Louis B. Mayer.
The original Cinerama process used three 35mm cameras to record three aspects of a single image simultaneously. When viewing the process, a special, huge, curved screen, angled about 165 degrees was used. Three projectors were used with images viewed at 26 frames per second. In the 1952 "This is Cinerama" production, the curved screen measured 75 feet across and 55 feet high. Because the films from the three projectors did not always match, a second Cinerama process was conceived. The Cinerama (Corporation) switched to a single lens system, using a 70mm process with a curved screen.
Although existing theatres were adapted to show Cinerama films, in 1961 and 1962 the non-profit Cooper Foundation of Lincoln, Nebraska, designed and built three near-identical circular "super-Cinerama" theaters in Denver, Colorado; St. Louis Park, Minnesota (a Minneapolis suburb); and Omaha, Nebraska. The theaters were designed by architect Richard L. Crowther of Denver, a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. A fourth theatre, the Kachina Cinerama Theater, was built in Scottsdale, Arizona by Harry L. Nace Theatres on Scottsdale Road and opened on November 10, 1960.
Venues outside the USA included the Regent Plaza cinema in Melbourne, Australia, which was adapted for Cinerama in 1960 to show This is Cinerama and Seven Wonders of the World. The Imperial Theatre in Montreal and the Glendale in Toronto were the Canadian homes for Cinerama. This is Cinerama received its London premiere on 30th September 1954 at the Casino Cinerama Theatre, Old Compton Street, formerly a live theatre. The film ran for 16 months and was followed by the other three strip travelogues. Elsewhere in the UK three strip Cinerama venues were operated by the two main UK circuits, ABC at ABC Bristol Road, Birmingham and Coliseum, Glasgow, Rank at Gaumont, Birmingham and Queens, Newcastle and by independents at the Park Hall, Cardiff, Theatre Royal, Manchester and Abbey, Liverpool.
The last Cinerama theater built was the Southcenter Theatre in 1970, opening near the Southcenter Mall of Tukwila, Washington. It closed in 2001.
The Cinerama company exists today as part of the Pacific Theatres chain. Since the 1990s, surviving and new Cinerama prints have been screened at the National Media Museum in Bradford, England; the New Neon Cinema in Dayton, Ohio;
the refurbished Seattle Cinerama in Seattle; and Pacific Theatres’ Cinerama Dome in Hollywood.