A movie theater (North American English), cinema (British English), or cinema hall (Indian English), also known as a picture house or the pictures, is a building that contains an auditorium for viewing films (also called movies) for entertainment. Most, but not all, theaters are commercial operations catering to the general public, who attend by purchasing a ticket. Some movie theaters, however, are operated by non-profit organizations or societies that charge members a membership fee to view films.
The film is projected with a movie projector onto a large projection screen at the front of the auditorium while the dialogue, sounds and music are played through a number of wall-mounted speakers. Since the 1970s, subwoofers have been used for low-pitched sounds. In the 2010s, most movie theaters are equipped for digital cinema projection, removing the need to create and transport a physical film print on a heavy reel.
A great variety of films are shown at cinemas, ranging from animated films to blockbusters to documentaries. The smallest movie theaters have a single viewing room with a single screen. In the 2010s, most movie theaters have multiple screens. The largest theater complexes, which are called multiplexes—a design developed in the US in the 1960s—have up to thirty screens. The audience members often sit on padded seats, which in most theaters are set on a sloped floor, with the highest part at the rear of the theater. Movie theaters often sell soft drinks, popcorn, and candy, and some theaters sell hot fast food. In some jurisdictions, movie theaters can be licensed to sell alcoholic drinks.
A movie theater may also be referred to as a movie theatre, movie house, film house, film theater or picture house. In the US, theater has long been the preferred spelling, while in the UK, Australia, Canada and elsewhere it is theatre.
However, some US theaters opt to use the British spelling in their own names, a practice supported by the National Association of Theatre Owners, while apart from North America most English-speaking countries use the term cinema /ˈsɪnɪmə/, alternatively spelled and pronounced kinema /ˈkɪnɪmə/. The latter terms, as well as their derivative adjectives "cinematic" and "kinematic", ultimately derive from Greek κινῆμα, κινήματος (kinema, kinematos)—"movement", "motion". In the countries where those terms are used, the word "theatre" is usually reserved for live performance venues.
Colloquial expressions, mostly applied to motion pictures and motion picture theaters collectively, include the silver screen (formerly sometimes sheet) and the big screen (contrasted with the smaller screen of a television set). Specific to North American term is the movies, while specific terms in the UK are the pictures, the flicks and for the facility itself the flea pit (or fleapit). A screening room is a small theater, often a private one, such as for the use of those involved in the production of motion pictures or in a large private residence.
The etymology of the term "movie theater" involves the term "movie", which is a "shortened form of moving picture in the cinematographic sense" that was first used in 1896 and "theater", which originated in the "...late 14c., [meaning an] "open air place in ancient times for viewing spectacles and plays". The term "theater" comes from the Old French word "theatre", from the 12th century and "...directly from Latin theatrum [which meant] 'play-house, theater; stage; spectators in a theater'", which in turn came from the Greek word "theatron", which meant "theater; the people in the theater; a show, a spectacle", [or] literally "place for viewing". The use of the word "theatre" to mean a "building where plays are shown" dates from the 1570s in the English language.
The earliest precursors to movies were magic lantern shows. Magic lanterns used a glass lens, a shutter and a powerful lamp to project images from glass slides onto a white wall or screen. These slides were originally hand-painted. The invention of the Argand lamp in the 1790s, limelight in the 1820s and the intensely bright electric arc lamp in the 1860s increased the brightness of the images. The magic lantern could project rudimentary moving images, which was achieved by the use of various types of mechanical slides. Typically, two glass slides, one with the stationary part of the picture and the other with the part that was to move, would be placed one on top of the other and projected together, then the moving slide would be hand-operated, either directly or by means of a lever or other mechanism. Chromotrope slides, which produced eye-dazzling displays of continuously cycling abstract geometrical patterns and colors, were operated by means of a small crank and pulley wheel that rotated a glass disc. Still photographs were used later on after the widespread availability of photography technologies after the mid-19th century. Magic lantern shows were often given at fairs or as part of magic shows. A magic lantern show at the 1851 World's Fair caused a sensation among the audience.
The next significant step towards movies was the development of an understanding of image movement. Simulations of movement date as far back as to 1828, when Paul Roget discovered the phenomenon he called "persistence of vision". Roget showed that when a series of still images are shown rapidly in front of a viewer's eye, the images merge into one registered image that appears to show movement, an optical illusion, since the image is not actually moving. This experience was further demonstrated through Roget's introduction of the thaumatrope, a device which spun a disk with an image on its surface at a fairly high rate of speed. The French Lumière brothers' (Louis and Auguste Lumière) first film, Sortie de l'usine Lumière de Lyon, shot in 1894, is considered the first true motion picture.
From 1894 to the late 1920s, movie theaters showed silent films, which were films with no synchronized recorded sound or dialogue. In silent films for entertainment, the dialogue was transmitted through muted gestures, mime and title cards, which contained a written indication of the plot or key dialogue. The idea of combining motion pictures with recorded sound is nearly as old as film itself, but because of the technical challenges involved, synchronized dialogue was only made practical in the late 1920s with the perfection of the Audion amplifier tube and the introduction of the Vitaphone system. During silent films, a pianist, Theater organist, or in large cities, even a small orchestra would often play music to accompany the films. Pianists and organists would either play from sheet music or improvise; an orchestra would play from sheet music.
A "talkie" or sound film is a motion picture with synchronized sound, or sound technologically coupled to image, as opposed to a silent film. The first known public exhibition of projected sound films took place in Paris in 1900, but decades passed before sound motion pictures were made commercially practical. Reliable synchronization was difficult to achieve with the early sound-on-disc systems, and amplification and recording quality were also inadequate. Innovations in sound-on-film led to the first commercial screening of short motion pictures using the technology, which took place in 1923. The primary steps in the commercialization of sound cinema were taken in the mid- to late 1920s. At first, the sound films incorporating synchronized dialogue—known as "talking pictures", or "talkies"—were exclusively shorts; the earliest feature-length movies with recorded sound included only music and effects. The first feature film originally presented as a talkie was The Jazz Singer, released in October 1927. A major hit, it was made with Vitaphone, which was at the time the leading brand of sound-on-disc technology. Sound-on-film, however, would soon become the standard for talking pictures. By the early 1930s, the talkies were a global phenomenon. In the United States, they helped secure Hollywood's position as one of the world's most powerful cultural/commercial systems (see Cinema of the United States). In Europe (and, to a lesser degree, elsewhere), the new development was treated with suspicion by many filmmakers and critics, who worried that a focus on dialogue would subvert the unique aesthetic virtues of soundless cinema. In Japan, Philippines, where the popular film tradition integrated silent movie and live vocal performance, talking pictures were slow to take root. In India, sound was the transformative element that led to the rapid expansion of the nation's film industry.
Traditionally a movie theater, like a stage theater, consists of a single auditorium with rows of comfortable padded seats, as well as a foyer area containing a box office for buying tickets. Movie theaters also often have a concession stand for buying snacks and drinks within the theater's lobby. Other features included are film posters, arcade games and washrooms. Stage theaters are sometimes converted into movie theaters 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 arthouse fare to an audience accustomed to plays. The familiar characteristics of relatively low admission and open seating can be traced to Samuel Roxy Rothafel, an early movie theater impresario. Many of these early theaters contain a balcony, an elevated level across the auditorium 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.
"Stadium seating", popular in modern multiplexes, actually dates back to the 1920s. The 1922 Princess Theatre in Honolulu, Hawaii featured "stadium seating", sharply raked rows of seats extending from in front of the screen back towards the ceiling. It gives patrons a clear sight line over the heads of those seated in front of them. Modern "stadium seating" was utilized in IMAX theaters, which have very tall screens, beginning in the early 1970s. Rows of seats are divided by one or more aisles so that there are seldom more than 20 seats in a row. This allows easier access to seating, as the space between rows is very narrow. Depending on the angle of rake of the seats, the aisles have steps. In older theaters, aisle lights were often built into the end seats of each row to help patrons find their way in the dark. Since the advent of stadium theaters with stepped aisles, each step in the aisles may be outlined with small lights to prevent patrons from tripping in the darkened theater. In movie theaters, the auditorium may also have lights that go to a low level, when the movie is going to begin. Theaters often have booster seats for children and other short people to put on the seat, to sit higher, for a better view. Many modern theaters have accessible seating areas for patrons in wheelchairs. See also luxury screens below.
Canada was the first country in the world to have a two-screen theater. The Elgin Theatre in Ottawa, Ontario became the first venue to offer two film programs on different screens in 1957 when Canadian theater-owner Nat Taylor converted the dual screen theater into one capable of showing two different movies simultaneously. Taylor is credited by Canadian sources as the inventor of the multiplex or cineplex; he later founded the Cineplex Odeon Corporation, opening the 18-screen Toronto Eaton Centre Cineplex, the world's largest at the time, in Toronto, Ontario. In the United States, Stanley Durwood of American Multi-Cinema (now AMC Theatres) is credited as pioneering the multiplex in 1963 after realizing that he could operate several attached auditoriums with the same staff needed for one through careful management of the start times for each movie. Ward Parkway Center in Kansas City, Missouri had the first multiplex cinema in the United States.
Since the 1960s, multiple-screen theaters have become the norm, and many existing venues have been retrofitted so that they have multiple auditoriums. A single foyer area is shared among them. In the 1970s many large 1920s movie palaces were converted into multiple screen venues by dividing their large auditoriums, and sometimes even the stage space, into smaller theaters. Because of their size, and amenities like plush seating and extensive food/beverage service, multiplexes and megaplexes draw from a larger geographic area than smaller theaters. As a rule of thumb, they pull audiences from an eight to 12-mile radius, versus a three to five-mile radius for smaller theaters (though the size of this radius depends on population density). As a result, the customer geography area of multiplexes and megaplexes typically overlaps with smaller theaters, which face threat of having their audience siphoned by bigger theaters that cut a wider swath in the movie-going landscape.
In most markets, nearly all single-screen theaters (sometimes referred to as a "Uniplex") have gone out of business; the ones remaining are generally used for arthouse films, e.g. the Crest Theatre in downtown Sacramento, California, small-scale productions, film festivals or other presentations. Because of the late development of multiplexes, the term "cinema" or "theater" may refer either to the whole complex or a single auditorium, and sometimes "screen" is used to refer to an auditorium. A popular film may be shown on multiple screens at the same multiplex, which reduces the choice of other films but offers more choice of viewing times or a greater number of seats to accommodate patrons. Two or three screens may be created by dividing up an existing cinema (as Durwood did with his Roxy in 1964), but newly built multiplexes usually have at least six to eight screens, and often as many as twelve, fourteen, sixteen or even eighteen.
Although definitions vary, a large multiplex with 20 or more screens is usually called a "megaplex". However, in the United Kingdom, this was a brand name for Virgin Cinema (later UGC). 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 7,500. The first theater in the U.S. built from the ground up as a megaplex was the AMC Grand 24 in Dallas, Texas, which opened in May 1995, while the first megaplex in the U.S.-based on an expansion of an existing facility was Studio 28 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which reopened in November 1988 with 20 screens and a seating capacity of 6,000.
A drive-in movie theater is an outdoor parking area with a screen—sometimes an inflatable screen—at one end and a projection booth at the other. Moviegoers drive into the parking spaces which are sometimes sloped upwards at the front to give a more direct view of the movie screen. Movies are usually viewed through the car windscreen (windshield) although some people prefer to sit on the hood of the car. Sound is either provided through portable loudspeakers located by each parking space, or is broadcast on an FM radio frequency, to be played through the car's stereo system. Because of their outdoor nature, drive-ins usually only operate seasonally, and after sunset. Drive-in movie theaters are mainly found in the United States, where they were especially popular in the 1950s and 1960s. Once numbering in the thousands, about 400 remain in the U.S. today. In some cases, multiplex or megaplex theaters were built on the sites of former drive-in theaters.
Some outdoor movie theaters are just grassy areas where the audience sits upon chairs, blankets or even in hot tubs, and watch the movie on a temporary screen, or even the wall of a building. Colleges and universities have often sponsored movie screenings in lecture halls. The formats of these screenings include 35 mm, 16 mm, DVD, VHS, and even 70 mm in rare cases. 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 movies 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 theaters could not show popular Hollywood and Asian films.
In 1967, the British government launched seven custom-built mobile cinema units for use as part of the Ministry of Technology campaign to raise standards. Using a very futuristic look, these 27-seat cinema vehicles were designed to attract attention. They were built on a Bedford SB3 chassis with a custom Coventry Steel Caravan extruded aluminum body. 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. In a similar fashion, movies are sometimes also shown on trains, such as the Auto Train.
The smallest purpose-built cinema is the Cabiria Cine-Cafe which measures 24 m² (258.3 ft²) and has a seating capacity of 18. It was built by Renata Carneiro Agostinho da Silva (Brazil) in Brasília DF, Brazil in 2008. It is mentioned in the 2010 Guinness World Records. The World's smallest solar-powered mobile cinema is Sol Cinema in the UK. Touring since 2010 the cinema is actually a converted 1972 caravan. It seats 8–10 at a time. In 2015 it featured in a Lenovo advert for the launch of a new tablet. The Bell Museum of Natural History in Minneapolis, Minnesota has recently begun summer "bike-ins", inviting only pedestrians or people on bicycles onto the grounds for both live music and movies. In various Canadian cities, including Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa and Halifax, al-fresco movies projected on the walls of buildings or temporarily erected screens in parks operate during the Summer and cater to a pedestrian audience. The New Parkway Museum in Oakland, California replaces general seating with couches and coffee tables, as well as having a full restaurant menu instead of general movie theater concessions such as popcorn or candy.
3D film is a system of presenting film images so that they appear to the viewer to be three-dimensional. Visitors usually borrow or keep special glasses to wear while watching the movie. Depending on the system used, these are typically polarized glasses. Three-dimensional movies use two images channeled, respectively, to the right and left eyes to simulate depth by using 3-D glasses with red and blue lenses (anaglyph), polarized (linear and circular), and other techniques. 3-D glasses deliver the proper image to the proper eye and make the image appear to "pop-out" at the viewer and even follow the viewer when he/she moves so viewers relatively see the same image.
The earliest 3D movies were presented in the 1920s. There have been several prior "waves" of 3D movie distribution, most notably in the 1950s when they were promoted as a way to offer audiences something that they could not see at home on television. Still the process faded quickly and as yet has never been more than a periodic novelty in movie presentation. The "golden era" of 3D film began in the early 1950s with the release of the first color stereoscopic feature, Bwana Devil. The film starred Robert Stack, Barbara Britton and Nigel Bruce. James Mage was an early pioneer in the 3D craze. Using his 16 mm 3D Bolex system, he premiered his Triorama program in February 1953 with his four shorts: Sunday In Stereo, Indian Summer, American Life, and This is Bolex Stereo. 1953 saw two groundbreaking features in 3D: Columbia's Man in the Dark and Warner Bros. House of Wax, the first 3D feature with stereophonic sound. For many years, most 3-D movies were shown in amusement parks and even "4-D" techniques have been used when certain effects such as spraying of water, movement of seats, and other effects are used to simulate actions seen on the screen. The first decline in the theatrical 3D craze started in August and September 1953.
In 2009, movie exhibitors became more interested in 3D film. The number of 3D screens in theaters is increasing. The RealD company expects 15,000 screens worldwide in 2010. The availability of 3D movies encourages exhibitors to adopt digital cinema and provides a way for theaters to compete with home theaters. One incentive for theaters to show 3D films is that although ticket sales have declined, revenues from 3D tickets have grown. In the 2010s, 3D films became popular again. The IMAX 3D system and digital 3D systems are used (the latter is used in the animated movies of Disney/Pixar).
The RealD 3D system works by using a single digital projector that swaps back and forth between the images for eyes. A filter is placed in front of the projector that changes the polarization of the light coming from the projector. A silver screen is used to reflect this light back at the audience and reduce loss of brightness. There are four other systems available: Volfoni, Master Image, XpanD and Dolby 3D.
When a system is used that requires inexpensive 3D glasses, they can sometimes be kept by the patron. Most theaters have a fixed cost for 3D, while others charge for the glasses, but the latter is uncommon (at least in the United States). For example, in Pathé theaters in the Netherlands the extra fee for watching a 3D film consists of a fixed fee of €1.50, and an optional fee of €1 for the glasses. Holders of the Pathé Unlimited Gold pass (see also below) are supposed to bring along their own glasses; one pair, supplied yearly, more robust than the regular type, is included in the price.
IMAX is a system using film with more than ten times the frame size of a 35 mm film to produce image quality far superior to conventional film. IMAX theaters use an oversized screen as well as special projectors. Invented by a Canadian company, the first permanent IMAX theater was at Ontario Place in Toronto, Canada. At the IMAX cinema attached to the National Media Museum in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom, visitors to the museum's sixth floor can observe the IMAX projection booth via a glass rear wall and watch the large format films being loaded and projected. There is also an IMAX theater in the Museum of science in Boston Massachusetts.
Movie theaters may be classified by the type of movies they show or when in a film's release process they are shown:
Usually in the 2010s, an admission is for one feature film. Sometimes two feature films are sold as one admission (double feature), with a break in between. Separate admission for a short subject is rare; it is either an extra before a feature film or part of a series of short films sold as one admission (this mainly occurs at film festivals). (See also anthology film.) In the early decades of "talkie" films, many movie theaters presented a number of shorter items in addition to the feature film. This might include a newsreel, live-action comedy short films, documentary short films, musical short films, or cartoon shorts (many classic cartoons series such as the Looney Tunes and Mickey Mouse shorts were created for this purpose). Examples of this kind of programming are available on certain DVD releases of two of the most famous films starring Errol Flynn as a special feature arrangement designed to recreate that kind of filmgoing experience while the PBS series, Matinee at the Bijou, presented the equivalent content. Some theaters 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 1960s with the rise of television news, and most material now shown prior to a feature film is of a commercial or promotional nature (which usually include "trailers", which are advertisements for films and commercials for other consumer products or services).
A typical modern theater presents commercial advertising shorts, then movie trailers, and then the feature film. Advertised start times are usually for the entire program or session, not the feature itself; thus people who want to avoid commercials and trailers would opt to enter later. This is easiest and causes the least inconvenience when it is not crowded 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, particularly for very long films. There may also be a break between the introductory material and the feature. Some countries such as the Netherlands have a tradition of incorporating an intermission in regular feature presentations, though many theaters have now abandoned that tradition, while in North America, this is very rare and usually limited to special circumstances involving extremely long movies. During the closing credits many people leave, but some stay until the end. Usually the lights are switched on after the credits, sometimes already during them. Some films show mid-credits scenes while the credits are rolling, which in comedy films are often bloopers and outtakes, or post-credits scenes, which typically set up the audience for a sequel.
Until the multiplex era, prior to showtime, the screen in some theaters would be covered by a curtain, in the style of a theater for a play. The curtain would be drawn for the feature. It is common practice in Australia for the curtain to cover part of the screen during advertising and trailers, then be fully drawn to reveal the full width of the screen for the main feature. Some theaters, lacking a curtain, filled the screen with slides of some form of abstract art prior to the start of the movie. Currently, in multiplexes, theater chains often feature a continuous slideshow between showings featuring a loop of movie trivia, promotional material for the theater chains (such as encouraging patrons to purchase drinks, snacks and popcorn, gift vouchers and group rates, or other foyer retail offers), or advertising for local and national businesses. Advertisements for Fandango and other convenient methods of purchasing tickets is often shown. Also prior to showing the film, reminders, in varying forms would be shown concerning theater etiquette (no smoking, no talking, no littering, removing crying babies, etc.) and in recent years, added reminders to silence mobile phones as well warning as concerning movie piracy with camcorders ("camming").
Some well-equipped theaters have "interlock" projectors which allow two or more projectors and sound units to be run in unison by connecting them electronically or mechanically. This set up can be used to project two prints in sync (for dual-projector 3-D) or to "interlock" one or more sound tracks to a single film. Sound interlocks were used for stereophonic sound systems before the advent of magnetic film prints. Fantasound (developed by RCA in 1940 for Disney's Fantasia) was an early interlock system. Likewise, early stereophonic films such as This Is Cinerama and House of Wax utilized a separate, magnetic oxide-coated film to reproduce up to six or more tracks of stereophonic sound. Datasat Digital Entertainment, purchaser of DTS's cinema division in May 2008, uses a time code printed on and read off of the film to synchronize with a CD-ROM in the sound track, allowing multi-channel soundtracks or foreign language tracks. This is not considered a projector interlock, however. This practice is most common with blockbuster movies. Muvico Theaters, Regal Entertainment Group, Pacific Theatres and AMC Theatres are some theaters that interlock films.
Sometimes movie theaters provide digital projection of a live broadcast of an opera, concert, or other performance or event. For example, there are regular live broadcasts to movie theaters of Metropolitan Opera performances, with additionally limited repeat showings. Admission prices are often more than twice the regular movie theater admission prices.
In order to obtain admission to a movie theater, the prospective theater-goer must usually purchase a ticket from the box office, which may be for an arbitrary seat ("open" or "free" seating, first-come, first-served) or for a specific one (allocated seating). As of 2015, some theaters sell tickets online or at automated kiosks in the theater lobby. Movie theaters in North America generally have open seating. Cinemas in Europe can have free seating or numbered seating. Some theaters in Mexico offer numbered seating, in particular, Cinepolis VIP. In the case of numbered seating systems the attendee can often pick seats from a video screen. Sometimes the attendee cannot see the screen and has to make a choice based on a verbal description of the still available seats. In the case of free seats, already seated customers may be asked by staff to move one or more places for the benefit of an arriving couple or group wanting to sit together.
For 2013, the average price for a movie ticket in the United States was $8.13. The price of a ticket may be discounted during off-peak times e.g. for matinees, and higher at busy times, typically evenings and weekends. In Australia, Canada and New Zealand, when this practice is used, it is traditional to offer the lower prices for Tuesday for all showings, one of the slowest days of the week in the movie theater business, which has led to the nickname "cheap Tuesday". Sometimes tickets are cheaper on Monday, or on Sunday morning. Almost all movie theaters employ economic price discrimination: tickets for youth, students, and seniors are typically cheaper. Large theater chains, such as AMC Theaters, also own smaller theaters that show "second runs" of popular films, at reduced ticket prices. Movie theaters in India and other developing countries employ price discrimination in seating arrangement: seats closer to the screen cost less, while the ones farthest from the screen cost more.
In the United States, many movie theater chains sell discounted passes, which can be exchanged for tickets to regular showings. These passes are traditionally sold in bulk to institutional customers and also to the general public at Bulktix.com. Some passes provide substantial discounts from the price of regular admission, especially if they carry restrictions. Common restrictions include a waiting period after a movie's release before the pass can be exchanged for a ticket or specific theaters where a pass is ineligible for admission.
Some movie theaters and chains sell monthly passes for unlimited entrance to regular showings. Cinemas in Thailand have a restriction of one viewing per movie. The increasing number of 3D movies, for which an additional fee is required, somewhat undermines the concept of unlimited entrance to regular showings, in particular if no 2D version is screened, except in the cases where 3D is included. Also, in one Pathé theater in the Netherlands on one day of the week buying a drink and a snack is compulsory. Some adult theaters sell a day pass, either as standard ticket, or as an option that costs a little more than a single admission. Also for some film festivals, a pass is sold for unlimited entrance. Discount theaters show films at a greatly discounted rate, however, the films shown are generally films that have already run for many weeks at regular theaters and thus are no longer a major draw, or films which flopped at the box office and thus have already been removed from showings at major theaters in order to free up screens for films that are a better box office draw.
Some cinemas in city centers offer luxury seating with services like complimentary refills of soft drinks and popcorn, a bar serving beer, wine and liquor, reclining leather seats and service bells. Cinemas must have a liquor license to serve alcohol. The Vue Cinema and CGV Cinema chain is a good example of a large-scale offering of such a service, called "Gold Class" and similarly, ODEON, Britain's largest cinema chain, have gallery areas in some of their bigger cinemas where there is a separate foyer area with a bar and unlimited snacks.
Admission to a movie may also be restricted by a motion picture rating system, typically due to depictions of sex, nudity or graphic violence. 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. In some jurisdictions, a rating may legally impose these age restrictions on movie theaters. Where movie theaters do not have this legal obligation, they may enforce restrictions on their own. Accordingly, a movie theater may either not be allowed to program an unrated film, or voluntarily refrain from that.
Movie studios/film distributors in the US traditionally drive hard bargains entitling them to as much as 100% of the gross ticket revenue during the first weeks (and then the balance changes in 10% increments in favor of exhibitors at intervals that vary from film to film). Film exhibition has seen a rise in its development with video consolidation as well as DVD sales, which over the past two decades is the biggest earner in revenue. According to The Contemporary Hollywood Film Industry, Philip Drake states that box office takings currently account for less than a quarter of total revenues and have become increasingly "front loaded", earning the majority of receipts in the opening two weeks of exhibition, meaning that films need to make an almost instant impact in order to avoid being dropped from screens by exhibitors. Essentially, if the film does not succeed in the first few weeks of its inception, it will most likely fail in its attempt to gain a sustainable amount of revenue and thus being taken out from movie theaters. Furthermore, higher-budget films on the "opening weekend", or the three days, Friday to Sunday, can signify how much revenue it will bring in, not only to America, but as well as overseas. It may also determine the price in distribution windows through home video and television.
In Canada, the total operating revenue in the movie theater industry was $1.7 billion in 2012, an 8.4% increase from 2010. This increase was mainly the result of growth in box office and concession revenue. Combined, these accounted for 91.9% of total industry operating revenue. In the US, the "...number of tickets sold fell nearly 11% between 2004 and 2013, according to the report, while box office revenue increased 17%" due to increased ticket prices.
One reason for the decline in ticket sales in the 2000s is that "home-entertainment options [are] improving all the time— whether streamed movies and television, video games, or mobile apps—and studios releasing fewer movies", which means that "people are less likely to head to their local multiplex". A Pew Media survey from 2006 found that the relationship between movies watched at home versus at the movie theater was in a five to one ratio and 75% of respondents said their preferred way of watching a movie was at home, versus 21% who said they preferred to go to a theater. In 2014, it was reported that the practice of releasing a film in theaters and via on-demand steaming on the same day (for selected films) and the rise in popularity of the Netflix streaming service has led to concerns in the movie theater industry. Another source of competition is television, which has "...stolen a lot of cinema's best tricks – like good production values and top tier actors – and brought them into people's living rooms". Since the 2010s, one of the increasing sources of competition for movie theaters is the increasing ownership by people of home theater systems which can display high-resolution Blu-ray disks of movies on large, widescreen flat-screen TVs, with 5.1 surround sound and a powerful subwoofer for low-pitched sounds.
The relatively strong uniformity of movie ticket prices, particularly in the U.S., is a common economics puzzle, because conventional supply and demand theory would suggest higher prices for more popular and more expensive movies, and lower prices for an unpopular "bomb" or for a documentary with less audience appeal. Unlike seemingly similar forms of entertainment such as rock concerts, in which a popular performer's tickets cost much more than an unpopular performer's tickets, the demand for movies is very difficult to predict ahead of time. Indeed, some films with major stars, such as Gigli (which starred the then-supercouple of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez), have turned out to be box-office bombs, while low-budget films with unknown actors have become smash hits (e.g., The Blair Witch Project). The demand for films is usually determined from ticket sale statistics after the movie is already out. Uniform pricing is therefore a strategy to cope with unpredictable demand. Historical and cultural factors are sometimes also cited.
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. At a theater with a sold-out show there is often an additional ticket check, to make sure that everybody with a ticket for that show can find a seat. The lobby may be before or after the ticket check.
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.
In North America, the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) is the largest exhibition trade organization in the world. According to their figures, the top four chains represent almost half of the theater screens in North America. In Canada, Cineplex Entertainment is the largest and movie theater company with 161 locations and 1,635 screens. The studios once controlled many theaters, but after the appearance of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Congress passed the Neely Anti-Block Booking Act, which eventually broke the link between the studios and the theaters. Now, the top three chains in the U.S. are Regal Entertainment Group, AMC Entertainment Inc and Cinemark Theatres. In 1995, Carmike was the largest chain in the United States- now, the major chains include AMC Entertainment Inc – 5,206 screens in 346 theaters, Cinemark Theatres – 4,457 screens in 334 theaters, Landmark Theatres – 220 screens in 54 theaters, Marcus Theatres – 681 screens in 53 theaters. National Amusements – 409 screens in 32 theaters and Regal Entertainment Group – 7,334 screens in 588 cinemas. In 2015 the United States had a total of 40,547 screens. In Mexico, the major chains are Cinepolis and Cinemex.
In South America, Argentine chains include Hoyts, Village Cinemas, Cinemark and Showcase Cinemas. Brazilian chains include Cinemark and Moviecom. Chilean chains include Hoyts and Cinemark. Colombian, Costa Rican, Panaman and Peruvian chains include Cinemark and Cinépolis.
In Asia, Wanda Cinemas is the largest exhibitor in China, with 2,700 screens in 311 theaters and with 18% of the screens in the country; another major Chinese chain is UA Cinemas. China had a total of 31,627 screens in 2015 and is expected to have almost 40,000 in 2016. Hong Kong has AMC Theatres. In India, PVR Cinemas is a leading cinema operating a chain of 500 screens and CineMAX and INOX are both multiplex chains. Indonesia has the 21 Cineplex chain. A major Israel theater is Cinema City International. Japanese chains include Toho and Shochiku.
On July 20, 2012, a mass shooting occurred inside a Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, during a midnight screening of the film The Dark Knight Rises. Dressed in tactical clothing, James Eagan Holmes set off tear gas grenades and shot into the audience with multiple firearms. Twelve people were killed and seventy others were injured, 58 of them from gunfire. At the time, the attack had the largest number of casualties in one shooting in modern U.S. history, until the Orlando nightclub shooting in 2016 and the Las Vegas shooting in 2017. It was the deadliest shooting in Colorado since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. Holmes was arrested in his car outside the cinema minutes later. Earlier he had rigged his apartment with homemade explosives and incendiary devices, which were defused by the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office Bomb Squad a day after the shooting.
The shooting prompted an increase in security at movie theaters across the U.S. that were screening the same film, in fear of copycat crimes. It led to a spike in gun sales in Colorado and political debates about gun control in the United States.
Holmes confessed to the shooting but pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Arapahoe County prosecutors sought the death penalty for Holmes. The trial began on April 27, 2015. On July 16, he was convicted of 24 counts of first-degree murder, 140 counts of attempted first-degree murder, and one count of possessing explosives. On August 7, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. On August 26, he was given twelve life sentences, one for every person he killed; he also received 3,318 years for the attempted murders of those he wounded and for rigging his apartment with explosives.AMC Theatres
AMC Theatres (originally an abbreviation for American Multi-Cinema; often referred to simply as AMC and known in some countries as AMC Cinemas) is an American movie theater chain headquartered in Leawood, Kansas, and is the largest movie theater chain in the world. Founded in 1920, AMC has the largest share of the American theater market ahead of Regal Cinemas and Cinemark Theatres.
After acquiring Odeon Cinemas, UCI Cinemas, and Carmike Cinemas in 2016, it became the largest movie theater chain in both the world and the United States, with 2,200 screens in 244 theatres in Europe and over 8,200 screens in 661 theatres in the United States.Adult movie theater
An adult movie theatre is a euphemistic term for a movie theatre specifically designed for the exhibition of pornographic films.
Adult movie theatres show pornographic films primarily for either a respectively heterosexual or homosexual audience. For the patrons, rules are generally less strict regarding partial- or full-nudity and public masturbation or sex, and such behavior may be condoned explicitly or otherwise by the management. Such behavior may or may not be legal, and if not, may or may not be overlooked by local law enforcement. Certain theaters may also include a stripshow or sex show between films, or other sex industry services.
Before the VCR and, later, the Internet, a movie theatre or cinema house was often the only location where people could see hardcore erotic films. The spread of home videos has led to a drastic reduction in the number of adult theatres.Alhambra Theatorium
Alhambra Theatorium (also known as The Alhambra Theater) is a historic movie theater in the Haynies Corner Arts District of Evansville, Indiana. It was designed by Frank J. Schlotter and opened on September 27, 1913 as a movie theater. The Alhambra was one of many influenced by the Alhambra Palace in Spain. Although Alhambra theatres opened all over the world, only a traditional playhouse built in New York in 1905 predates Evansville's in the United States.
The theatre cost $18,000 to build and was one of the largest movie theatres in Evansville at the time. It included a cigar shop and a confectionery, and spurred new business in the area now designated as the Haynies Corner Arts District. The theater ceased operation in 1956.
The Alhambra has been renovated a few times in the past 100 years and is in the process of being restored. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.Astor Theatre (New York City)
The Astor Theatre was located at 1537 Broadway, at West 45th Street in Times Square in New York City. It opened September 21, 1906, with Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and continued to operate as a Broadway theatre until 1925. From 1925 until it closed in 1972, it was a first-run movie theater.Biograph Theater
The Biograph Theater, at 2433 North Lincoln Avenue, near Lincoln Park in Chicago, Illinois, was originally a movie theater but now presents live productions. It is notable as the location where bank robber John Dillinger was shot by FBI agents after watching a gangster movie on July 22, 1934. The theater is on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a Chicago Landmark on March 28, 2001.CocoWalk
CocoWalk is an upscale lifestyle center in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami, Florida. The center houses over thirty stores and services, including a movie theater, shops, and multiple restaurants. Subsequently renamed The Gallery at CocoWalk by its former owners, Thor Equities, the mall is currently owned by PMAT Real Estate Investments, L. L. C.Drive-in theater
A drive-in theater or drive-in cinema is a form of cinema structure consisting of a large outdoor movie screen, a projection booth, a concession stand and a large parking area for automobiles. Within this enclosed area, customers can view movies from the privacy and comfort of their cars. Some drive-ins have small playgrounds for children and a few picnic tables or benches.
The screen can be as simple as a wall that is painted white, or it can be a steel truss structure with a complex finish. Originally, the movie's sound was provided by speakers on the screen and later by individual speakers hung from the window of each car, which were attached by wire. These systems were superseded by the more economical and easier to maintain method of broadcasting the soundtrack at a low output power on AM or FM radio to be picked up by a car radio. This also allows the soundtrack to be picked up in stereo by the audience on an in-car stereo system which is typically higher quality and fidelity than the simple speakers used in the old systems.Film distribution
Film distribution is the process of making a movie available for viewing by an audience. This is normally the task of a professional film distributor, who would determine the marketing strategy for the film, the media by which a film is to be exhibited or made available for viewing, and who may set the release date and other matters. The film may be exhibited directly to the public either through a movie theater or television, or personal home viewing (including DVD, video-on-demand, download, television programs through broadcast syndication). For commercial projects, film distribution is usually accompanied by film promotion.
When a film is initially produced, a feature film is often shown to audiences in a movie theater. Typically, one film is the featured presentation (or feature film). Before the 1970s, there were "double features"; typically, a high-quality "A picture" rented by an independent theater for a lump sum, and a lower-quality "B picture" rented for a percentage of the gross receipts. Today, the bulk of the material shown before the feature film consists of previews for upcoming movies (also known as trailers) and paid advertisements.Film poster
A film poster is a poster used to promote and advertise a film. Studios often print several posters that vary in size and content for various domestic and international markets. They normally contain an image with text. Today's posters often feature photographs of the main actors. Prior to the 1980s, illustrations instead of photos were far more common. The text on film posters usually contains the film title in large lettering and often the names of the main actors. It may also include a tagline, the name of the director, names of characters, the release date, etc.
Film posters are displayed inside and on the outside of movie theaters, and elsewhere on the street or in shops. The same images appear in the film exhibitor's pressbook and may also be used on websites, DVD (and historically VHS) packaging, flyers, advertisements in newspapers and magazines, etc.
Film posters have been used since the earliest public exhibitions of film. They began as outside placards listing the programme of (short) films to be shown inside the hall or movie theater. By the early 1900s, they began to feature illustrations of a film scene or an array of overlaid images from several scenes. Other posters have used artistic interpretations of a scene or even the theme of the film, represented in a wide variety of artistic styles.Leesburg Stockade
The Leesburg Stockade was an event in the civil rights movement in which a group of African-American teenage and pre-teen girls were arrested for protesting racial segregation in Americus, Georgia, and were imprisoned without charges for 45 days in poor conditions in the Lee County Public Works building, in Leesburg, Georgia. The building was then called the Leesburg Stockade, and gave its name to the event. The young prisoners became known as the Stolen Girls.In July, 1963, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (the SNCC), in cooperation with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, organized a protest march in Americus from the Friendship Baptist Church to a segregated movie theater. As part of the protest, a group of young women joined the line to attempt to purchase tickets at the movie theater, and were arrested for doing so. After being held briefly in Dawson, Georgia, the protesters were moved to the Leesburg Stockade. Estimates of the number of young women who were held there range from 15 to about 30
or as many as 33.Some of the prisoners were as young as 12.
Conditions in the stockade were poor: the prisoners had only concrete floors to sleep on, water only in drips from a shower, a single non-functional toilet, and poor food. The prison authorities did not inform the parents of the prisoners of their arrest or location, and they only found out through the help of a janitor.
The young women were threatened with murder, and at one point a rattlesnake was thrown into their cell.
After the SNCC and Senator Harrison A. Williams used a set of photos by Danny Lyon to publicize the situation, the young women were released, and did not face any criminal charges, but were nevertheless charged a fee for their use of the facilities.Two of the Leesburg Stockade women, Carol Barner Seay and Sandra Russel Mansfield, were added to the Hall of Fame of the National Voting Rights Museum in 2007. The National Museum of African American History and Culture of the Smithsonian Institution publicized the story of the stolen girls in 2016, and they were recognized by a resolution of the Georgia state legislature.List of movie theater chains
This is a list of movie theater chains across the world. The chains are listed alphabetically by continent and then by country.Multiplex (movie theater)
A multiplex is a movie theater complex with multiple screens within a single complex. They are usually housed in a specially designed building. Sometimes, an existing venue undergoes a renovation where the existing auditoriums are split into smaller ones, or more auditoriums are added in an extension or expansion of the building. The largest of these complexes can sit thousands of people and are sometimes referred to as a megaplex.
The difference between a multiplex and a megaplex is related to the number of screens, but the dividing line is not well-defined; some say that 14 screens and stadium seating make a megaplex; others that at least 20 screens are required. Megaplex theaters always have stadium seating, and may have other amenities often not found at smaller movie theaters. Multiplex theatres often feature regular seating.
The Kinepolis-Madrid Ciudad de la Imagen megaplex in Spain is the largest movie theater in the world, with 25 screens and a seating capacity of 9,200 including a 996-seat auditorium.Nickelodeon (movie theater)
The nickelodeon was the first type of indoor exhibition space dedicated to showing projected motion pictures. Usually set up in converted storefronts, these small, simple theaters charged five cents for admission and flourished from about 1905 to 1915.
"Nickelodeon" was concocted from nickel, the name of the U.S. five-cent coin, and the ancient Greek word odeion, a roofed-over theater, the latter indirectly by way of the Odéon in Paris, emblematic of a very large and luxurious theater, much as Ritz was of a grand hotel. For unknown reasons, in 1949 the lyricist of a popular song "Music! Music! Music!" incorporated the refrain "Put another nickel in, in the nickelodeon…", evidently referring to either a jukebox or a mechanical musical instrument such as a coin-operated player piano or orchestrion. The meaning of the word has been muddied ever since. In fact, when it was current in the early 20th century, it was used only to refer to a small five-cent theater and not to any coin-in-the-slot machine, including amusement arcade motion-picture viewers such as the Kinetoscope and Mutoscope.The earliest films had been shown in "peep show" machines or projected in vaudeville theaters as one of the otherwise live acts. Nickelodeons drastically altered film exhibition practices and the leisure-time habits of a large segment of the American public. Although they were characterized by continuous performances of a selection of short films, added attractions such as illustrated songs were sometimes an important feature. Regarded as disreputable and dangerous by some civic groups and municipal agencies, crude, ill-ventilated nickelodeons with hard wooden seats were outmoded as longer films became common and larger, more comfortably furnished motion-picture theaters were built, a trend that culminated in the lavish "movie palaces" of the 1920s.
Film historian Charles Musser wrote: "It is not too much to say that modern cinema began with the nickelodeons."Quo Vadis Entertainment Center
The Quo Vadis Entertainment Center (also known as the Quo Vadis or the Penthouse Theater) was a movie theater in Westland, Michigan. Opened in 1966, it closed in 2002 and then remained vacant until it was demolished in 2011.RKO Proctor's Theater, New Rochelle
RKO Proctor's Theater is a historic movie theater located on Main Street in New Rochelle in Westchester County, New York. Herbert J. Krapp designed the brick structure using a Renaissance motif with retail stores housed under two-story "blind arches", a feature borrowed from Stanford White’s Madison Square Garden. Completed in 1927, this movie palace and vaudeville house featured a luxurious 2,800 seat interior with 4 screens. A Wurlitzer organ was installed in the theater in 1927 and was used to accompany silent movies and for intermissions and shows. After the invention of talking movies the organ was abandoned and later sold. The theater hosted numerous performances by performers and celebrities such as George Burns and Gracie Allen, as well as Sophie Tucker, Eddie Cantor, and Georgie Jessel. In 1950 Bela Lugosi appeared at the theater and performed his Horror and Magic Show. Jerry Lewis appeared onstage on July 12th, 1961 for the opening of his second feature film as a director, The Ladies Man. In 1962 the Three Stooges appeared at the theater to promote their film The Three Stooges Meet Hercules.The building is included on the Historic Theater Inventory of the League of Historic American Theatres and is also recognized as part of the New York State Movie Theater Corridor, a statewide listing of 122 historically significant theaters.Wilton Mall
Wilton Mall at Saratoga (or simply The Wilton Mall) is a regional shopping center, located off Interstate 87 exit 15 in the town of Wilton, directly north of Saratoga Springs, New York. The mall has a gross leasable area of 763,270 square feet (70,910 m2). The mall is anchored by Dick's Sporting Goods (originally Steinbach), JCPenney, which its current location opened in 2008 on the site originally planned for Montgomery Ward, HomeGoods, Healthy Living Market and Café, Planet Fitness, both which were subdivided in the original location of JCPenney, and Sears; in addition, it features a food court and movie theater. It is currently owned by Macerich, having been purchased from Wilmorite Properties of Rochester, New York in 2004. The Bon-Ton, originally an Addis & Dey's, closed in August 2018.
On November 8, 2018, it was announced that Sears will be closing this location in early 2019 as part of a plan to close 40 stores.Yahoo! Movies
Yahoo! Movies (formerly Upcoming Movies), provided by the Yahoo! network, is home to a large collection of information on movies, past and new releases, trailers and clips, box office information, and showtimes and movie theater information. Yahoo! Movies also includes red carpet photos, actor galleries, and production stills. Users can read critic's reviews, write and read other user reviews, get personalized movie recommendations, purchase movie tickets online, and create and view other user's lists of their favorite movies.Ziegfeld Theatre (1969)
The Ziegfeld Theatre was a single-screen movie theater located at 141 West 54th Street in midtown Manhattan, New York City. It opened in 1969 and closed in 2016. The theater was named in honor of the original Ziegfeld Theatre (1927–1966) which was built by the impresario Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr..