Film-Tech Cinema Systems
Film-Tech Forum

Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile | my password | register | search | faq & rules | forum home
  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » Closed cinema visits (Page 1)

This topic comprises 3 pages: 1  2  3 
Author Topic: Closed cinema visits
Thomas Pitt
Master Film Handler

Posts: 255
From: Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK
Registered: May 2007

 - posted 07-15-2008 03:21 AM      Profile for Thomas Pitt   Email Thomas Pitt   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
As you're probably well aware, there are many cinemas that have closed down over the years. Many of these are singles or doubles that have fallen victim to the modern multiplexes.

Some of these old cinemas have been completely gutted inside and turned into something else (like a shop or offices). Some have been demolished and are just an area of bare land now. Others, however, are still intact - grimy time capsules of the year they were closed. It's this last kind I'm most interested in.

Have any of you ever visited a closed cinema to look around? How much of the structure (and equipment) was still intact? I've never visited a closed cinema, but I know many 'urban explore' groups that do visit derelict places - including cinemas.

Here's a link to the sort of thing I mean; an urban exploration group entering a closed cinema:
Bradford Odeon Explore

Edit: Perhaps this should be moved to Film-Yak

 |  IP: Logged

Andy Frodsham
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 235
From: Stoke on Trent, Staffs, UK
Registered: Nov 2006

 - posted 07-15-2008 03:38 AM      Profile for Andy Frodsham   Email Andy Frodsham   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thomas, really pleased you raised this topic.

Quite by chance I came across some of the pictures taken last year inside our local ABC in Hanley (sadly, now demolished). Although fascinating, they are really, really sad (particularly, because it was only built in the early sixties and before being tripled, had a magnificent 70mm screen). I was interested to know who would have taken ownership of their electric rewinds (still pictured in the photographs) and other, still functioning, gear. The pictures taken inside the Wakefield cinemas are also fascinating.

 |  IP: Logged

Justin Hamaker
Film God

Posts: 2009
From: Lakeport, CA USA
Registered: Jan 2004

 - posted 07-15-2008 03:45 AM      Profile for Justin Hamaker   Author's Homepage   Email Justin Hamaker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I visited the old Cinema 1 in downtown Fairfield, CA about 5 years ago. At the time the building was in the process of being converted for use as a comedy club, night club, and other similar uses. I was able to go up into the old projection room above the balcony. You could see where everything had been, but most of the projection equipment had been removed as they were in the process of converting it to a sound and light control room. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures, but I don't really think there was much worth seeing.

 |  IP: Logged

Andy Frodsham
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 235
From: Stoke on Trent, Staffs, UK
Registered: Nov 2006

 - posted 07-15-2008 04:36 AM      Profile for Andy Frodsham   Email Andy Frodsham   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Some of the photos taken in the older parts of cinemas after they had been split into smaller theatres, shows how shoddy the new workmanship was. I wonder how many members of the public were aware of the fabulous architecture just lurking above the tatty suspended ceilings? Quite fascinating, too, to see the number of old 'dress circles' and projection booths now, confined to 'dead' space above these newly constructed dividers!

 |  IP: Logged

Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 7851
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 07-15-2008 04:38 AM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've occasionally had luck with this. In the US, a call to the tax assessor's office will get you information about the owner of a particular building. Sometimes these people are cooperative and will let you in to see the place and (maybe) take pictures. Just ask nicely and explain that you are interested in old theatres and would like to see inside the building; this is what has worked for me.

 |  IP: Logged

Stephen Furley
Film God

Posts: 3039
From: Coulsdon, Croydon, England
Registered: May 2002

 - posted 07-15-2008 07:05 AM      Profile for Stephen Furley   Email Stephen Furley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Often used to visit closed cinemas with the CTA (Cinema Theatre Association) when I was a member. My membership expired a few years ago, and I never got round to renewing it.

We quite often managed to get into roof spaces, projection suites, under stages etc. which had been disused for many years, occasionally there would still be equipment installed. Health and Safety regulations have been tightened up a lot in recent years, and I suspect that this has largely put a stop to this sort of thing; some of the places we got into were in a pretty dangerous condition.

 |  IP: Logged

Mark Hajducki
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 500
From: Edinburgh, UK
Registered: May 2003

 - posted 07-15-2008 08:31 AM      Profile for Mark Hajducki   Email Mark Hajducki   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
A photo tour of my Local former Odeon.
Page detailing its history

Unlike the Bradford site most of the equipment and seating was removed (so as to make it less desirable to be reopened as a cinema), the seating in the photo tour was for a temporary install.

 |  IP: Logged

Andy Frodsham
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 235
From: Stoke on Trent, Staffs, UK
Registered: Nov 2006

 - posted 07-15-2008 09:00 AM      Profile for Andy Frodsham   Email Andy Frodsham   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 

Looks like a beautiful building in its day and, despite all the various modifications, I am surprised how many of the original features still remain (though still not enough).

I just hate to see these buildings gathering dust and waiting to be turned into yet another trendy wine-bar (or worse - demolition)! This is just begging to be turned into an art house theatre!

 |  IP: Logged

Mark Hajducki
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 500
From: Edinburgh, UK
Registered: May 2003

 - posted 07-15-2008 09:11 AM      Profile for Mark Hajducki   Email Mark Hajducki   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Given current land values the developers want to get as much usage out of the site, plans have included housing and hotel usage.

At present they have not been able to get planning permission for any plans.

This is just begging to be turned into an art house theatre!
There are already two art theatres within a short walk.

In addition there are too many stage theatres within the city, so there is potential to convert it back to a single large auditorium.

 |  IP: Logged

Scott Jentsch
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 996
From: New Berlin, WI, USA
Registered: Apr 2003

 - posted 07-15-2008 02:53 PM      Profile for Scott Jentsch   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Jentsch   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
A few years ago, I was able to join a group that toured the Grand (originally the Warner) here in Milwaukee:

It has been in operation since 1995, and downtown Milwaukee has been without a movie theater since.

Walking through the theater, it wasn't hard to imagine what it looked like when it was in top condition. A part of me wishes that someone with money that doesn't care about profitability could re-open places like that as living museums to a time long since gone, but the reality is that all we'll ever be able to hold onto are photos and memories.

I do have photos from the tour that I could put up somewhere if people are interested.

 |  IP: Logged

Andy Muirhead
Master Film Handler

Posts: 323
From: Galashiels, Scotland
Registered: Dec 2000

 - posted 07-15-2008 07:57 PM      Profile for Andy Muirhead   Email Andy Muirhead   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 

Although having been in the business for 15 years, I've only ever attended two cinemas as a customer during that time, and Odeon Clerk Street was one. I remember being totally impressed by the atmosphere, It's such a shame it is now closed. It made such an impression on me that I've never forgotten it, even though it was over ten years ago.

 |  IP: Logged

Andy Frodsham
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 235
From: Stoke on Trent, Staffs, UK
Registered: Nov 2006

 - posted 07-16-2008 06:52 AM      Profile for Andy Frodsham   Email Andy Frodsham   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think Andy just summed it up. Anyone whose only experience of going to the cinema has been attending a multiplex, has been truly robbed of what true movie theatres are all about!

Our, now demolished, ABC used selected filtered footlights to cycle through different colours on the curtains. And talking of curtains (or tabs), they had two sets of these (stage and screen) and both would be used to add to the showmanship. This all added-to the feeling that going to the cinema was 'an event' - regardless of how good the actual film was!

I think the modern multiplex has sacrificed some of this showmanship for efficiency i.e. the movie, as a commodity, being delivered clinically to the consumer!

I'd like to see more tabs installed back on screens, footlights and spotlights being used creatively and whatever happened to film producers putting play-ins and play-outs on the heads and tails of some major films!

 |  IP: Logged

Laurie Higgins
Film Handler

Posts: 45
From: Norcross, GA, USA
Registered: Jun 2008

 - posted 07-16-2008 04:24 PM      Profile for Laurie Higgins   Author's Homepage   Email Laurie Higgins   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Seeing those photos of the Bradford Odeon almost choked me up. It's a sad thing to see such a beautiful thing mangled and then left to rot.

 |  IP: Logged

Louis Bornwasser
Film God

Posts: 4395
From: prospect ky usa
Registered: Mar 2005

 - posted 07-16-2008 06:56 PM      Profile for Louis Bornwasser   Author's Homepage   Email Louis Bornwasser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
"Play ins" had to be removed from films such as the first Star Trek. The audience thought the projector was broken since there was no picture and half of the audience was complaining in the lobby by the time the actual picture started. Then they wanted the beginning shown again because they had missed it. Easier to accomodate stupidity by turning it into "just another picture." Louis

 |  IP: Logged

Jim Cassedy
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1510
From: San Francisco, CA
Registered: Dec 2006

 - posted 07-16-2008 07:09 PM      Profile for Jim Cassedy   Email Jim Cassedy   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I was able to get permission & keys to the CORONET theater here in San Franicsco shortly before it was torn down last year. It had been closed for about 2.5 years.

It was pretty much intact, but was a sorry sight!
Mold had grown on the screen and all the seats.
Pigeons and rodents had found their way into the building,
making a mess of everything. Mice had chewed out the speaker cones and made nests inside the enclosures.

Most the the equipment had been removed but there was still an assortment of projector pieces and spare parts up in the booth and a complete workin Christie AM-5 automation system that was in use when the place closed.

The good news, is that with the owners permission, I was able to go on a scavenger hunt and retrieve quite a bit of working equipment and stuff to "recycle" at other theaters.

These included:
>2 working ice cream freezers
>the aforementioned automation system
>large wall mirror from the ladies room
>curtain & masking motors
>2 Audio Racks (empty, but even empty racks aren't cheap)>
>Heater & blower assemblies from the popcorn warmers. I'd have prefered to take the whole warmers but they were pretty much built into the counter and could not be removed without destroying them.
>Several new, unused carbonation machines, still in boxes.
>Strings of Tivoli lights and several Tivoli transformers
>Large Indoor Trash Recepticles (These are over $300 new!)

While some of these items are still in storage, most have
been redistributed and have found new use at several several
other San Francisco theaters.
The popcorn warmer parts were used to repair a broken warmer at another theater.

A WORD OF ADVICE to anyone thinking of exploring closed theaters:

Go as though you were going to explore a cave.

Closed theaters usually have no electricity and are 'black holes' light-wise.

Plenty of LED flashlights, and preferably head-lamps are a MUST.
Gloves and a face-mask should also be worn.

In my case, a headlamp kept me from putting my eye out from a piece of metal sticking out of the wall that had been removed as part of the pre-demolition asbestos abatement.

While exploring old theaters can be fun, it can also be dangerous if you're not careful.

 |  IP: Logged

All times are Central (GMT -6:00)
This topic comprises 3 pages: 1  2  3 
Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic    Move Topic    Delete Topic    next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:

Powered by Infopop Corporation

The Film-Tech Forums are designed for various members related to the cinema industry to express their opinions, viewpoints and testimonials on various products, services and events based upon speculation, personal knowledge and factual information through use, therefore all views represented here allow no liability upon the publishers of this web site and the owners of said views assume no liability for any ill will resulting from these postings. The posts made here are for educational as well as entertainment purposes and as such anyone viewing this portion of the website must accept these views as statements of the author of that opinion and agrees to release the authors from any and all liability.

© 1999-2018 Film-Tech Cinema Systems, LLC. All rights reserved.