Wonderdome Is Sydney’s New Pop-Up Cinema That’s Screening Immersive 360-Degree Films in a Giant Dome

It isn’t called the big screen for nothing — and, when you head to the pictures, that’s typically what you spend a couple of hours peering at. But you won’t just be staring at a giant rectangle at Wonderdome, Australia’s new pop-up cinema experience. In a blend of film, music and art that takes its cues from planetariums, you’ll be sat in a dome watching movies that’ve been specifically designed to take up the whole 360-degree space that’s towering above you.

Melbourne Planetarium’s regular fulldome sessions, the Melbourne International Film Festival’s own fulldome programming and the Brisbane International Film Festival’s foray into the same space a decade back have all served up this same kind of immersive view, if the overall concept sounds familiar. But when Wonderdome hits Sydney’s Entertainment Quarter between Saturday, December 4–Sunday, January 30, it’ll also be following in the footsteps of Coachella and Burning Man by creating a dedicated fulldome space that’s all about this type of cinema-going. It’ll also offer Australia’s largest-ever 360-degree projection cinema.

The structure itself is a geodesic steel dome that spans 21 metres in diameter, and is filled with multiple projectors, as well as a 7.2 surround sound system. To watch, you’ll recline on throne-style beanbags and stare up at the movie. Given that the projection sprawls all around you, it’s been likened to virtual reality — but without the goggles.

During Wonderdome’s debut run in Sydney, it’ll screen a lineup of 22 films — including the dazzling Coral Rekindling Venus, about fluorescent coral reefs, bioluminescent sea creatures and rare marine life, from Emmy Award-wining Australian filmmaker Lynette Wallworth. Other highlights include National Geographic’s Flying Monsters, about flying dinosaurs, which is narrated by the one and only David Attenborough; the climate-focused Dynamic Earth, which benefits from Liam Neeson’s vocal work; and Carriberrie, which focuses on Indigenous Australian dance and song.

Fulldome cinema is also known for its psychedelic and eye-popping visual displays, which is where Samskara, from artist Android Jones, comes in — plus Labyrinth, which is filled with squares, streets, passages, corridors and rooms; and Luminokaya, which lets you explore Cambodian temple complex Angkor Wat.

The rest of the program also features the architecture-focused Urban Levitation; Distant Life: Alien Worlds, about whether humanity is alone in the universe; Flight of Fancy, which recreates a space jump at 120,000 feet; and other space-centric titles such as From Earth to the Universe and Journey to the Centre of the Milky Way. There’s a lineup of fulldome movies for kids, too, because this is an all-ages space.

Snacks-wise, you’ll be able to grab something to eat and drink either before or after each Wonderdome session, with the menu including jaffles, chips, slushies, chocolates and ice creams. Plus, there’ll be a gin bar, as well as a lineup of craft beers.

Wonderdome’s Entertainment Quarter season will also accept New South Wales’ Dine & Discover vouchers, if you have some left — or you’re eager to get your hands on more when two extra vouchers become available for NSW residents over the age of 18 sometime this summer.

And if you won’t be in Sydney this summer, cross your fingers that Wonderdome will plan stops in other cities. The fact that it’s is pop-up dome obviously makes that easier.

Wonderdome will pop-up at Sydney’s Entertainment Quarter from Saturday, December 4–Sunday, January 30. For more information, or for tickets from 11am AEST on Wednesday, November 17, head to the Wonderdome website.

Published on November 14, 2021 by Sarah Ward

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