I love old movie theaters. Ever since I began to have an interest in still photography I have been photographing theaters. It began in New York City back in the 1970’s. Back then, the theaters I photographed were not considered old, or classic. At the time, they were just the theaters where you went to see the latest new releases. Over the years, whenever I travel, I have always remained on the lookout for old theaters wherever I go. Theaters that have managed to survive the wrong arm of society’s law; old needs to be replaced. When we, my wife and I, moved to the Tamps Bay area in the late 1990’s we discovered the Tampa Theater. It’s a 1927 movie palace that was, and still is, actively showing current independent films, classic films as well as live shows. The building fortunately has been declared a landmark, so we should be able to enjoy its pleasures for years to come. In early 2008, we went to see “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.” An art film, the Tampa Theater was the only place in town showing it at the time. On this particular occasion I took my camera and a tri-pod with the intent to photograph not only the outside, but the theater inside. I asked permission and management was gracious enough to allow me to shoot a few photos as long as I was not shooting during the showing of the film. Anyway, I took a series of shots both outside and in, some of which are shown here. Continue reading
As some of you may know I am a photographer of sorts. One of my pet projects is photographing old movie theaters. Whenever I travel I try to find old movie theaters wherever I go. I actually photographed my first theaters back in the 1970’s when I lived in New York City. Of course, back then these theaters were not old classic movie theaters, they were the theaters you visited every week. That all said, I thought I would share some of these photos I have taken over the past few years in a short series, six in all, I will occasionally post. These are no great works of ‘art’ here, just a look at days gone by. I will provide any information on the theater that I am aware, some personal memories and links to the theaters that are still active today in some form.
First up are those New York City theaters.
The Loew’s Oriental was the local theater in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn where I spent most of my youth. Many Saturday afternoons were spent in this grand theater watching films like “Thief of Bagdad,” “Visit to a Small Planet,” “The Wackiest Ship in the Army,” “Exodus” and many more. Jerry Lewis toured the Loew’s movie chain during the release of one of his movies, I think it was “The Nutty Professor” and I got to see him there live. The theater was twinned in 1977, the same year this photo was taken. Today the theater is a Marshalls Department Store.
The Baronet/Coronet Theaters, along with the Cinema I and Cinema II were located on the same block with just a Bookmasters store in between. These four theaters were once the primo theaters for big movie releases during the 1960’s and 70’s. Foreign films like Bergman’s “Cries and Whispers” and Antonioni’s “Blow-Up” to domestic works like “The Exorcist” and “The Graduate” had their premiere engagements at one of these fours theaters located on the Upper East Side. One personal experience I had happened one weekday afternoon in September of 1976 . I took a half day off from work to go see Woody Allen’s film “The Front” which opened that day and was playing at the Coronet. The theater was fairly crowded for a weekday afternoon. After the film was over and everyone began filing out I suddenly noticed walking out right in front of me were John Lennon and Yoko Ono! Growing up in the 60’s, and a Beatles fan, I pretty much stood there stunned. I never saw The Beatles in concert but over the years I got to see Paul, George and Ringo separately in concerts and I got to go to the movies, well sorta, with John.
Loew’s State 1 and 2
The Loew’s State opened on Broadway in 1926. Over the years its marquee has gone through several reconstructions and in 1968 the theater was twined. “Ben-Hur,” had its World Premiere here as a road show engagement and ran for 74 weeks. Other major films to premiere at the Loew’s State include “Becket,” “Mutiny on the Bounty,” “Some Like it Hot” and “The Godfather.”
The KiMo Theater in Albuquerque, New Mexico is located on Central Ave (Old Route 66) in downtown. The theater opened in 1927 and remains in use today for live events.
Here is a link to some historical information on the KiMo Theate.
Here is a link to the KiMo page on Cinema Treasures.
Here are some photographs I took in 2007.