(Ch.3) How We Watch Films … the Audience Determines the Future

  •  1896 – In New Orleans the first theatre used primarily for cinema was dubbed as theauditorium_theatre_in_toronto “picture house”. Until 1927 Early cinema was silent, and theatres would have a live pianist (and sometimes orchestras or bands) to perform and provide the soundtrack.
  • 1902 – Los Angeles became the home for the first permanent movie house.
  • 1907 – Nickelodeon theatres were established where patrons could pay 5 cents (or a nickel) to watch short films in a projection viewing box. Several “viewing boxes” were set up side by side, much like video arcade game halls that were established in malls during the 1970s-1990s.
  • 1913 – The Movie Palaces became established with seating for large capacity 12479559_659488477524449_2079816122_naudiences. New York’s Regent Theater at that time could host 1,800 patrons.
  • 1917 – The first air-conditioned movie theatre was built in Chicago.
  • 1925 –On May 14, popcorn was first served to theatre patrons (but was sold outside from a mobile cart).
  • 1927 – The first film was released with synconized sound (The Jazz Singer) changing the industry (and the way films were exhibited).
  • 1933 – June 6, the first drive-in theatre was built in Camden, New Jersey.
  • 1935 –Concessions began being sold inside of theatres.
  • 1939 – Two films, “Gone with the Wind” and “The Wizard of Oz” offers audeinces a wizard_of_oz_movie_posternew tase of cinema with brilliant and eye-popping “color.” Prior to this, most films were black and white.
  • 1948 – Most Americans watched over 25 films per year in theatres.
  • 1950s – Television began to impact theatres boxoffice finances as many Americans stayed home to embrace the new media of TV.
  • 1952-‘54 – The first major 3D (The Golden Age of 3D) craze began to take over filmmaking to attract new audiences (in many ways to compete with TV). This brought the images off of the screen into the laps of viewers.
  • 1950s-60s – The Drive-in Theatres reached nearly as many audiences during non-winter months as did traditional movie theatres. Drive-Ins also offered laundry mats, miniture golf drive-in-theater-inkbluesky
    courses, full resturants and a wonderful place for teens to show off their cars. The Drive-Ins became a place for a family night out, and a make out spot as well.
  • 1960 – Smell-o-vision & AromaRama began to be companion gimmicks for 3D filmmaking. Now, not only could audiences see what was coming at them with 3D glasses, but devices were now in place to allow the crowds to smell what was happening in the scenes as well.
  • 1963 – Shopping malls were being developed, and it became a place for captive 07_tacoma-mall-theatreaudiences. It only made sense to build theatres near (or in) these locations. the first duplex (two-screens) theatre was established during this time with 700 total seats.
  • 1970 – The first IMAX film (Tiger Child) was released in Osaka, Japan on March 15.
  • 1972 –HBO paid network was established (cable TV).
  • 1973 – The Movie Channel paid etwork was established (cable TV).
  • 1974 – Multiplex cinemas began to expand, and Atlanta became the home for the first eight-plex. In the next few years as many as 60 screens at some locations were available (of course many showed the sames films).
  • 1975 – Earl Owensby (of Shelby, NC) stumbled onto the international market in films, and made millions. It would take Hollywood years to embrace his marketing strategy.
  • 1975 –The first blockbuster film “Jaws” was released on June 20 in 464 screens. Jaws was the first film to launch in major distribution in several cities (on the same day).
  • 1976 – Showtime paid network was established (cable TV).
  • 1980 – HBO, Showtime & the Movie Channel began making an impact on boxoffice receipts. These networks allowed viewers to watch films just a short time after the theatrical run had wrapped.
  • 1982 – Although created in the late 1970s, Video Cassette Recorders (VCRs) were now being heavily marketed. It would be another three years before most Americans could afford the devices.chain_gang_1984_poster
  • 1982 – Earl Owensby Studios began producing 3D films for the 2nd wave of 3D filmmaking. This “3D Renaissance Period” was a direct result of a filmmaker finding unique way to get people back into theatres for what Earl called “the gimmick experience that is filmmaking.” This launched a new phase of 3D films from major studios. Owensby went on to create six 3D films, the most by any studio during that time.
  • 1985 – Blockbuster video store was established offering audiences hundreds of films on videotape (in various genres) at one convenient location.
  • 1985 – Pay-per-view and on-demand films started to become available through cable companies & satellite
  • 1997 – In March, the first consumer DVD players and discs were available to the public in the US.
  • 1997 – Netflix (a dvd by mail service) launched and eventually put Blockbuster Video (and most other video stores) out of business.18kwjw9ujtsf3jpg
  • 1998 – Stadium seating and retractable armrests became commonplace for most theatres.
  • 1998 – Digital projection began to become established in theatres. Filmmakers also begin to work on creating movies by using digital-tape and editing technology. This would mean theatres would have to transition from showing 35 mm film prints to showing future digital-based releases. Major film studios assisted theatres financially in this transition.
  • 2000s – Digital movie downloads began being offered to consumers.718379603
  • 2002 Redbox (video store in a box) launched with McDonald’s Ventures. By 2014, Redbox had over 35,000 locations nationwide.
  • 2003 –DVD sales and rentals topped VHS sales/rentals.
  • 2003 – 3D Films (The Digital Age) was launched with the help of Oscar-winning director/producer James Cameron. With digital technology, and new conversion techniques, the modern age of 3D filmmaking was established. Today, the 3D market finds most of it’s success in the international market.
  • 2004– Nearly 2/3 of Americans had a DVD player.
  • 2005 –HDTV Began to be TV format of choice (2005 Consumers began to afford prices).
  • 2006 – Blu-Ray format introduced.1d6cd5744c18892857aa79729717_content
  • 2007 –Streaming services began to be offered by Netflix (with Apple to follow).
  • 2014 – Blockbuster video closed it’s last remaining store in January, thanks to the likes of Netflix and Redbox competition.


N.T. Manning II – 9.13.16






Anderson, John (March 26, 2009). 3-D not an alien concept in Hollywood. Newsday. Retrieved April 4, 2009.


Glatzer, R. (2001). Beyond popcorn: A critic’s guide to looking at films. Spokane, WA: Eastern Washington University Press.


History of the Movie Theater timeline | Timetoast timelines. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.timetoast.com/timelines/history-of-the-movie-theater


Katz, P. (2005, August 5). The history of movie houses | EW.com. Retrieved from http://www.ew.com/article/2005/08/05/history-movie-houses


Movie Theater History. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.kidzworld.com/article/6744-movie-theater-history


Movie timeline. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.infoplease.com/ipea/A0150210.html


Null, C. (2013). Five stars!: How to become a film critic, the world’s greatest job (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Sutro.


Owensby, E. E. (1997, November 10). Earl owensby: The man, the myth [Television series episode]. Interview by N. T. Manning. Shelby, NC.


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