About the Theater


  • Masks remain required for weekend screenings before 6pm and for select special event screenings as noted.
  • Masks are encouraged for all other screenings, but not required.
  • Why are we doing this? Our aim is to make seeing movies here safe and comfortable for everyone. In addition, the cinema is operated 100% by volunteers and we are trying to keep them healthy!

The Grand Illusion Cinema is the longest-running independent cinema in the city, and has become a landmark of the film community.

Opened in 1970 by Randy Findley in a converted dentist’s office, the cinema became the city’s first arthouse, showcasing foreign and revival films. The cinema was such a success it led to Randy’s opening the Seven Gables Cinema and eventually starting the local Seven Gables Theatres chain, which inevitably got swallowed by the national Landmark Cinema Corporation. The Grand Illusion was never part of the Seven Gables chain; it has remained a popular independent venue.

A nonprofit film arts organization, the Northwest Film Forum, saved the theater from closure in 1997, remodeled it, and revitalized interest in the venerable institution. Since 2004, a strong group of dedicated staff and volunteers focus attention and energy on continuing the tradition of this treasured cinema. Over the years, literally hundreds of cinema classics, rarities and truly independent cinema from around the world have been presented in the charming confines of The Grand Illusion Cinema.

We Pay Real RentReal Rent Duwamish

We recognize that we are on the ancestral land of the First People of Seattle, the Duwamish Tribe, and in solidarity we pay Real Rent.

4Culture Logo

Supported by 4Culture

Sustained Support for ongoing programming and funding for our 5.1 surround sound system graciously provided by 4Culture.

Supported by the Office of Arts & Culture

Support for programming graciously provided by the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture.