Niche it!
BobbyGs Info

GameStop, Inc.

Movie theater

Movies

Movie theater

Drive-in theater | Megaplex

Back | Home | Next


A typical multiplex (AMC Promenade 30 in Woodland Hills, California). A typical multiplex (AMC Promenade 30 in Woodland Hills, California).

A movie theater or cinema is a venue, usually a building, for viewing movies. Most cinemas are commercial operations catering to the general public, which attend by purchasing a ticket. The film is projected with a movie projector onto a large projection screen at the front of the auditorium. Some movie theaters are now equipped for digital cinema projection, removing the need to create and transport a physical film print.

Contents

Spelling and alternate terms

Outside of North America most English-speaking countries use the term cinema, while "theatre" usually refers to live-performance venues. In the United States, the customary spelling is "theater", but the National Association of Theatre Owners uses the spelling "theatre" to refer to cinemas.

Colloquial expressions, mostly used for cinemas collectively, include the silver screen, the big screen (contrasted with the "small screen" of television) and (in England) the pics, the flicks, and the flea pit, which derives from the long standing belief that the seats were infested with fleas as they were so uncomfortable to sit on, resulting in frequent fidgeting.

A "screening room" usually refers to a small facility for viewing movies, often for the use of those involved in the production of motion pictures, or in large private residences.

History

The first theater dedicated exclusively to showing motion pictures was Vitascope Hall, established on Canal Street, New Orleans, Louisiana in 1896. The first permanent structure designed for screening of movies was Tally's Electric Theater, completed in 1902 in Los Angeles, California. The 1913 opening of the Regent Theater in New York City signalled a new respectability for the medium, and the start of the two-decade heyday of American cinema design. Los Angeles promoter Sid Grauman began the trend of theatre-as-destination with his ornate "Million Dollar Theatre" (the first to signify its primary use for motion pictures with the "theatre" spelling), which opened on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles in 1918. In the next ten years, as movie revenues exploded, independent promoters and movie studios (who owned their own proprietary chains until an antitrust ruling in 1948) raced to build the most lavish, elaborate, attractive theatres. These forms morphed into a unique architectural genre—the movie palace—a unique and extreme architectural genre which came to an end with the deepening of the Great Depression. The movie chains were also among the first industries to install air conditioning systems which gave the theatres an additional lure of comfort in the summer period.

Several movie studios achieved vertical integration by acquiring and constructing theatre chains. The so-called "Big Five" theatre chains of the 1920s and 1930s were all owned by studios: Paramount, Warner, Loews (owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer), Fox, and RKO. All were broken up as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in the 1948 United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. anti-trust case.

Design

Interior of a movie theater in Australia, complete with acoustic wall hangings, wall-mounted speakers, and cup holders. Interior of a movie theater in Australia, complete with acoustic wall hangings, wall-mounted speakers, and cup holders.

Traditionally a movie theater, like a stage theater, consists of a single auditorium with rows of comfortable seats, as well as a lobby area containing a box office for buying tickets, a counter and/or selfservice facilities for buying snacks and drinks, and washrooms. Stage theaters are sometimes converted into movie theatres by placing a screen in front of the stage and adding a projector; this conversion may be permanent, or temporary for purposes such as showing art house fare to an audience accustomed to plays. The familiar characteristics of relatively low admission and open seating can be traced to Samuel "Roxy" Rothapfel, an early movie theater impresario. Many of these early theatres contain a balcony, an elevated platform above the theater's rearmost seats. The rearward main floor "loge" seats were sometimes larger, softer, and more widely spaced and sold for a higher price.

In conventional low pitch viewing floors the preferred seating arrangement is to use staggered rows. While a less efficient use of floor space this allows a somewhat improved sight line between the patrons seated in the next row toward the screen, provided they do not lean toward one another.

So-called "stadium seating" is employed in many modern theaters. Originally employed for flat-screen IMAX viewing (which has a very tall screen) this feature has proven popular with theatre patrons as it allows a clear sight line over the seated occupants forward of the viewer.

There are often two aisles, one at the right, and one at the left; sometimes there is only one, at one side or in the center. Sometimes a center aisle splits into a right and left one through an aisle along a row. Also there is an aisle before the front row. Each step in the aisles is usually marked with a row of small lights.

Walking along a row without an aisle, passing other people is just possible, with or without them standing up, but not without causing some inconvenience.

Multiplex and Megaplex

While a few theatres with more than one screen already existed, Stanley Durwood of American Multi-Cinema (now AMC Theatres) pioneered what would become the multiplex in 1963. Durwood later claimed that "in 1962 he was standing in the lobby of his 600-seat Roxy in Kansas City mulling over its poor grosses when he realized he could double his box office by adding a second screen and still operate with the same size staff.[1] This insight arose from the fact that the real-time labor demands of a movie theatre are not constant. Rather, they come in bursts at the start and end of the movie. At the start, a large number of employees have to sell tickets, process tickets at an access point, sell food at the concession stand (a theatre's primary profit center), make sure the theatre is not overcrowded, and run the film projector. While the movie plays, a small number of employees are needed for security and access control, while the others are relatively idle. At the end of the movie, a number of employees are needed to clean the theatre for the next showing. When the start times for movie showings in several physically connected auditoriums are staggered correctly, one team can continually keep all of them operational with minimal downtime.

Since that time multiple-screen theatres have become the norm, with many existing venues also retrofitted into multiple auditoriums. A single lobby is shared between them (the term "cinema" or "theater" may then mean either the whole complex or a single auditorium; sometimes "screen" is used with the latter meaning). Sometimes a popular movie is shown on multiple screens at the same multiplex, reducing the choice of movies but offering more choice of viewing times. Two or three screens may be produced by dividing up an existing cinema, but newly built multiplexes usually have at least 6 to 8 screens. In these large modern theaters often an electronic display in the ticket hall shows a list of movies with starting time, auditorium number, admission rating, and whether it is sold out. Sometimes the number of remaing available seats is shown as well. At the entrance of each auditorium there is often a one-line display with the title of the movie. After the movie has started, it may already display the next show.

Although definitions vary, a very large, modern multiplex with 20 or more screens is usually called a megaplex. The first megaplex is generally considered to be the Kinepolis in Brussels, Belgium, which opened in 1988 with 25 screens and a seating capacity of 7500. The first megaplex in the United States was AMC Theatres' Grand 24 in Dallas, Texas, which opened in 1995. This triggered a wave of megaplexes construction across the country, financed in part by private equity money, causing a dramatic shift in the face of cities across America. In each town, a megaplex would often put the town's multiplexes out of business, and were often coupled with other big box stores that were reaching their zenith at the time. This expansion was executed much too quickly, and almost all the major movie theatre companies went bankrupt at this time (although their operations were not much affected),

IMAX

IMAX is a system using oversized film to produce image quality far superior to conventional film. IMAX theaters require an oversized screen as well as special projectors. The first permanent IMAX theater was at Ontario Place in Toronto, Canada.

Drive-in

A drive-in movie theatre is basically an outdoor parking area with a screen at one end and a projection booth at the other. Moviegoers drive into the parking spaces which are usually provided with portable loudspeakers or the vehicle's sound system tunes to an FM station over which the soundtrack is played, and the movie is viewed through the car windscreen. Because of their outdoor nature drive-ins usually operate only after sunset, and are usually seasonal in operation. Drive-in movies were mainly found in the United States, and were especially popular in the 1950s and 1960s, but are now almost extinct.

Other venues

Some outdoor movie theatres are just cleared areas where the audience sits upon chairs or blankets and watch the movie on a temporary screen, or even the wall of a convenient building.

In the late 1990s, student organisations in universities and schools started to show movies in auditoriums equipped with multimedia projectors. Before the ubiquity of classic and modern films in DVD and VHS formats, student groups at large universities often sponsored screenings of films on 16 mm projectors in lecture halls as a way to raise money. Many small colleges also had student-run film groups that projected 16 mm films on a regular basis to students.

Some alternative methods of showing movies have been popular in the past. In the 1980s the introduction of VHS cassettes made possible video-salons, small rooms where visitors viewed the film on a large TV. These establishments were especially popular in the Soviet Union, where official distribution companies were slow to adapt to changing demand and so movie theatres could not show popular Hollywood and Asian films.

Movies are also commonly shown on airliners in flight, using large screens in each cabin or smaller screens for each group of rows or each individual seat; the airline company sometimes charges a fee for the headphones needed to hear the movie's sound. Movies can also be shown on trains.

Programming

Movie theaters may be classified by the type of movies shown:

  • First-run theater: A theater that runs primarily mainstream film fare from the major film companies and distributors, during the initial release period of each film.
  • Second-run or discount theater: A theater that runs films that have been pulled from the first-run theaters and presented at a lower ticket price. (These are sometimes known as dollar theaters.)
  • Repertoire/repertory theater or art house: A theater that presents more alternative and art films as well as second-run and classic films.
  • A sex theater or adult theater specializes in showing pornographic movies.
  • IMAX theaters can show conventional movies, but the major benefits of the IMAX system are only available when showing movies filmed using it. While a few mainstream feature films have been produced in IMAX, IMAX movies are often documentaries featuring spectacular natural scenery, and may be limited to the 45-minute length of a single reel of IMAX film.

Presentation

Historically, many movie theatres presented a number of shorter items in addition to the featured movie. This might include a newsreel and cartoon shorts (many classic cartoons such as Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse were created for this purpose). Some theatres ran on continuous showings, where the same items would repeat throughout the day, with patrons arriving and departing at any time rather than having distinct entrance and exit cycles. Newsreels gradually became obsolete by the 1960's with the rise of television news, and most material now shown prior to a feature film is of a commercial or promotional nature.

A typical modern theatre presents commercial advertising shorts, then movie trailers, and then the feature film. Advertised start times are usually for the entire programme or session, not the feature itself.[2]

Thus people who want to avoid commercials might want to enter later, and those who want to avoid the trailers, again later. This is easiest and causes the least inconvenience when it is not crowded, and/or one is not very choosy about where one wants to sit. If one has a ticket for a specific seat (see below) one is formally assured of that, but it is still inconvenient and disturbing to find and claim it during the commercials and trailers, unless it is near an aisle.

Some movie theaters have some kind of break during the presentation. There may also be a break between the introductory material and the feature. Double features usually consist of two feature films sold as one admission, with a break in between. Some countries such as the Netherlands have a tradition of incorporating an intermission in regular feature presentations[3], while in North America this is very rare, and usually limited to special circumstances involving extremely long movies.

Pricing and Admission

In order to obtain admission to a movie theater, the prospective theater-goer must usually purchase a ticket, which may be for an arbitrary seat ("open" or "free" seating) or for a specific one. Movie theaters in North America generally have open seating. Movie theaters in Europe can have free seating or have seating systems where the attendee can pick seats from a screen.

The price of a ticket may be discounted during off-peak times e.g. for matinées, and higher at busy times, typically evenings and/or weekends. Almost all movie theaters employ economic price discrimination: tickets for youth, students, and seniors are typically cheaper. Some movie theaters and chains sell passes for unlimited entrance. Some examples:

  • "Pathé Unlimited Card" (PUC) for the chain of 12 multi- and megaplex theatres of Pathé in the Netherlands (100 screens), for 17.50 euro/month; there are 15,000 pass holders (April 2006)
  • "Unlimited Card" for the chain of movie theaters of Cineworld (formerly UGC) in the UK and Ireland, for 14 pounds/month, or 11 pounds excluding those in London West
  • Carte "Le Pass" for the chain of movie theatres of Pathé/Gaumont in Paris, for 20 euro/month; ditto for each of a number of other French cities (same price, even though the pass is valid for much fewer screens)
  • "UGC Illimité" pass for all UGC movie theaters in France, for 18 euro/month, and an entrance fee of 30 euro.
  • "UGC Unlimited" pass for the four UGC movie theaters in Belgium, for 15 euro/month
  • "SF Movie Passport" pass for all the movies shown in SF Cinema City Organization theaters (?)(in Thailand), valid for a month for one person and one show per movie, at the price of THB 800 or eqv USD 20

Note that in Thailand there is the restriction of one show per movie, while in the Netherlands one can see any movie as many times as one wants.

Age restrictions

Admission to a movie may also be restricted by a motion picture rating system. According to such systems, children or teenagers below a certain age may be forbidden access to theaters showing certain movies, or only admitted when accompanied by a parent or other adult.

Movie hopping

In some movie theater complexes, the theaters are arranged such that tickets are checked at the entrance into the entire plaza, rather than before each theater. This has led to movie hopping, also called theater hopping, the practice of buying a ticket for one film and illicitly attending additional showings within the complex without buying the required tickets. Younger patrons may also use this practice to enter auditoriums showing age-restricted movies. In some cases there may be an additional ticket inspection for those entering an auditorium to prevent this from happening.

Movie theater culture

Movie theaters are associated with dating, 3D glasses, popcorn and expensive treats. It is also more culturally accepted to throw and leave your garbage on the floor in a movie theater, than elsewhere. Movie theatres are notorious for sticky floors.

Intimacy

Sometimes couples go to a movie theater for the additional reason that it provides the possibility of some physical intimacy, where the dark provides some privacy (with additional privacy in the back-row), i.e., the same amount of intimacy is a lesser form of public display of affection. This applies in particular for young people who still live with their parents, and these parents tend to monitor and/or forbid certain activities, and in the case of other social or even legal problems with PDA. Compared with being together in a room without other people, it may also be reassuring for one or both of the couple (and for parents) that the intimacy is necessarily limited.

Arm rests pose a hindrance to intimacy. Some theaters have love seats: seats for two without an armrest in the middle. The most modern theaters have movable armrests throughout the theater that when down can hold a food container as well as act as an armrest or partition between the seats and when up allow closer contact between the couple. More expensive theaters may have large comfortable sofas.

Lobby, food and drinks

Movie theaters usually sell various snack foods and drinks; the points of sale are called concession stands. There may be a counter, selfservice where one pays at the counter, and/or coin-operated machines. Sometimes the area of sale is more like a self-service shop than a lobby (it is not suitable for consuming the goods), and one pays at the check-out between the shop and the area with the screens.

The facilities for buying snacks and drinks often represent the theater's primary source of profit; movie studios in the U.S. traditionally drive hard bargains entitling them to more than 70, 80, or 90% of the gross ticket revenue during the first week (and then the balance changes in 10% increments per week from there). Some movie theaters forbid eating and drinking inside the viewing room (restricting such activities to the lobby), while others encourage it, e.g. by selling large portions of popcorn; however, also in that case bringing one's own food and drinks may be forbidden. Concessions is currently a huge area of expansion with many companies in the U.S. offering a wider range of snacks, including hot dogs and nachos. The noise of people eating, including the opening of wrappers, is frowned upon by some moviegoers.

The lobby may be before or after the ticket check. If it is after, sometimes entrance to the lobby is only allowed from a limited time, e.g. half an hour, before the movie starts.

It is quite common for the lobby to include an arcade game area.

Business practice controversies

  • Advertising - Many filmgoers complain about commercial advertising shorts, arguing that their absence would be one of the main advantages of going to a movie theater. Other critics such as Roger Ebert have expressed concerns that these advertisements, plus an excessive number of movie trailers could lead to pressure to restrict the preferred length of the feature films themselves to facilitate playing schedules. So far, the theatre companies have typically been highly resistant to these complaints, citing the need for the supplementary income. Some chains like Famous Players have compromised with the commercials restricted to being shown before the scheduled start time for the trailers and the feature film.
  • Presentation - Another major recent concern is that the dramatic improvements in stereo sound systems have led to cinemas playing the soundtracks of presented films at unacceptably high volume levels. Usually, the trailers are presented at a very high sound level, presumably to overcome the sounds of a busy crowd. The sound is not adjusted downward for a sparsely occupied theater, and some patrons employ earplugs for the trailer period.
  • Piracy - In recent years cinemas have started to show warnings, before the movie starts, against using cameras and camcorders during the movie. These warnings threaten customers with being removed from the cinema and arrest by the police. This example was shown at cinemas in the United Kingdom:
You are not permitted to use any camera or recording equipment in this cinema. This will be treated as an attempt to breach copyright. Any person doing so can be ejected and such articles may be confiscated by the police. We ask the audience to be vigilant against any such activity and report any matters arousing suspicion to cinema staff. Thank you.
  • Crowd control - As movie theaters have grown into multiplexes and megaplexes, crowd control has become a major concern. An overcrowded megaplex can be rather unpleasant, and in an emergency can be extremely dangerous. Therefore, all major theater chains have implemented crowd control measures. The most well-known measure is the ubiquitous holdout line which prevents ticketholders for the next showing of that weekend's most popular movie from entering the building until their particular auditorium has been cleared out and cleaned. Since the 1980s, some theater chains (especially AMC Theatres) have developed a policy of co-locating their theaters in shopping centers (as opposed to the old practice of building stand-alone theaters). They deliberately build lobbies and corridors that cannot hold as many people as the auditoriums, thus making holdout lines necessary. In turn, ticketholders may be enticed to shop or eat while stuck outside in the holdout line.
  • Other Practices - The multiplex offers a great amount of flexibility to a theater operator, enabling multiple theaters to exhibit the same popular production in multiple theaters with staggered starting times.

The colocation of theaters and the rotation of start times results in a great economy of scale for the sale of so-called "junk food" — sugary soda pop, popcorn, and the like. In addition to poor nutritional values, the foodstuffs sold are also characterised by extremely high markup and the profit from their sales can form the bulk of the gross margin of a theater.

See also

References

  1. ^ Klady, Leonard. "Obituaries: Stanley Durwood." Variety, 19 July 1999, p. 40.
  2. ^ "The love and loathing of cinema ads", BBC News website, 23 February 2005
  3. ^ BoomChicago.nl website

Home | Film | Film actors | Film advertising material | Animation | Film awards | Movie theater | Cinematography | Film criticism | Film distributor | Film festivals | Film festivals | Film score | Filmmakers | Film genres | Film history | Film industry | Motion picture rating systems | Movements in cinema | Film production | Film scenes | Film schools | Film sound production | Film soundtracks | Special effects | Film studios | Film styles | Film techniques | Film theory | Movies News | License

Movies, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.


Sony Creative Software Inc.

Music Videos
Languages
Select Interface Language:

English French German Hungarian Italian Norwegian Spanish
Shopping Random Product
Shopping Search

Emporium Contents
Gallery Most Viewed
Gallery Most Viewed
Recommended Software Sites

Montego Scripts - Home of HTML Newsletter

Code-Authors.com

nukeSEO.com

Totally Nuked Mods

EZ Communities - Custom PHP/MySQL Scripts and Solutions

RavenNuke(tm) Test site

Codezwiz Your #1 Help Resource

CSE HTML Validator Helped Clean up This Page!

PC Sympathy - Your Source for PC News and Technical Support

Mantis Bugtracker

Nuke-Evolution

TrickedOutNews.com - Home of Tricked Out News Mod, FaceBox and SlimBox RavenNuke(tm) mods