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» Cinematour Forum   » Cinematour Discussion   » What counts as a cinema? (Page 1)

 
This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2 
 
Author Topic: What counts as a cinema?
Mark Hajducki
New Member

Posts: 11
From: Edinburgh, Scotland
Registered: Sep 2003


 - posted March 15, 2005 09:49 AM      Profile for Mark Hajducki   Email Mark Hajducki         Edit/Delete Post 
I am trying to update/correct the listings of cinemas in the main database and am wondering what the definition of a cinema is.

There are some theatres/lecture theatres have have been/are used to show (35mm) film. Would these count as cinemas or not (one ran a regular set of evening and weekend films for a few years, another about 30 film society screenings. One showed film as a novelty (before the days of cinemas) and recently showed the 'sing-a-long-a' showings of films.

Does being open to the public affect the status?

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Jim Rankin
(Jim passed away in December 2006)
Posts: 123
From: Milwaukee, WI
Registered: Oct 2003


 - posted March 15, 2005 02:37 PM      Profile for Jim Rankin   Email Jim Rankin         Edit/Delete Post 
If you are talking 'architecturally' then the definition of 'cinema' usually agreed upon in the English-speaking world is that of an auditorium of any size that does NOT have real stage facilities, though many a cinema did have a platform in front of the screen and a single line of curtains that opened in front of the screen. Originally, this term was used to indicate a movies-only setting without the trappings of traditional theatres, e.g. dressing rooms, stage and rigging, orchestra pit and organ, etc. Thus a movie palace could not be called a cinema, but some cinemas were somewhat palatial in decor.

If you are speaking 'sociologically' then patronage might figure in the identity of the building, but then the usage of the term becomes much more localized and difficult to translate from one setting to another. One might attend any one of many 'film festivals' these days, which are said to celebrate 'cinema' but in that usage of the term means 'movies', not the place they are shown in, which may have been a traditional theatre that is simply being used to show films, though the film is not always called 'cinema.' Now you see the foggy nature of language and the various peoples may use it in quite different ways.

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William Hooper
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From: Mobile, AL
Registered: Mar 2003


 - posted March 16, 2005 02:23 AM      Profile for William Hooper   Email William Hooper         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
If you are talking 'architecturally' then the definition of 'cinema' usually agreed upon in the English-speaking world is that of an auditorium
Language is getting slippery here, too, since that would exclude air domes, as well as drive-in's.

quote:
Originally, this term was used to indicate a movies-only setting without the trappings of traditional theatres, e.g. dressing rooms, stage and rigging, orchestra pit and organ, etc. Thus a movie palace could not be called a cinema, but some cinemas were somewhat palatial in decor.
I think movie palaces were cinemas. Given that all that other stuff was to support the movies: organ & orchestra pit specifically to show the movie, dressing rooms & stage to accommodate the live elements of the time expected to support the movie; & it's still a movie house. It's all equipment whether technically tied to the movie itself or the venue's use of the movie, like sound equipment & advertising slide projectors.

Maybe the description would be closer to that of a building specifically designed to show movies.

This would let out a lot things like municipal, high school & college auditoriums which simply had the capacity to show movies as an auxilliary. When live houses were adapted to become exclusively movie houses, they then became cinemas. There might be some grayness in the area of some municipal theaters in smaller towns that were to be used as cinemas & municipal theaters as the need required, but those might legitimately be called dual-purpose buildings with one purpose being that of a cinema.

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Mark Hajducki
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From: Edinburgh, Scotland
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 - posted March 16, 2005 03:35 AM      Profile for Mark Hajducki   Email Mark Hajducki         Edit/Delete Post 
The lack of (proper) stage facilities is probably not a good test for defining a cinema. There are numerous exampels (eg The Edinburgh Playhouse which started as a cinema in 1929 as a cinema, but is now used as a live theatre, when many cinemas were multiplexed then the former stage area is often used for another one or two screens.

This still doesn't aid in the seperation of lecture theatres which regularly show 35mm film, sometimes to the public

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Jim Rankin
(Jim passed away in December 2006)
Posts: 123
From: Milwaukee, WI
Registered: Oct 2003


 - posted March 16, 2005 08:52 AM      Profile for Jim Rankin   Email Jim Rankin         Edit/Delete Post 
The danger here, fellows, is that we might let the two words merge into the same meaning, whereupon there is no purpose in having the two words THEATRE and CINEMA. Making distinctions is sometimes the only way we preserve our language so that words mean something, so that we are not walking around like the idiotic high school kids saying "like, you know" when of course the listener often doesn't know, and is relying upon the accurate use of words to convey meaning. I realize that neither this Forum nor any other forum can repair the meanings of these two words as distinctive from one another, but we can hope that at least the more experienced guys here will use them with different meanings.

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Ron Newman
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From: Somerville, MA
Registered: Jan 2005


 - posted March 16, 2005 10:44 AM      Profile for Ron Newman   Email Ron Newman         Edit/Delete Post 
I find the distinction difficult to make, given the number of live stages which have been converted to movie houses, and vice versa. Sometimes the same auditorium has gone through multiple phases of movies, live shows, movies, live shows, etc. At the theatre nearest to me, the main auditorium is often used for a live show one day and a movie the next.

When I submit a theatre to CinemaTreasures.com, my only criteria are (a) at some point in its life, it showed movies, and (b) it is (or was) open to the general public.

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William French, Jr.
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From: San Francisco, CA
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 - posted March 16, 2005 11:03 AM      Profile for William French, Jr.   Email William French, Jr.         Edit/Delete Post 
I think that a lot of the confusion has to do with different cultures. Here in the US I have rarely seen a place that shows films called a Cinema. Mainly I have seen the space called a Theatre (note the spelling). Some places use the spelling Theater. When I look up books on this topic I find that many of them use the spelling Theatre.

It seems that it is mainly in Europe that Theatres are called Cinemas.

Here in the US most of the early Theatres were converted to showing films and many of them continued to have live entertainment. There is a difference between a building that was built specifically to show films and a building that was built for live entertainment but I am not sure that the words Theatre and Cinema are distinctive enough to properly describe these types of buildings. The only phrase that I have found that is clear when it comes to buildings built specifically to show films (even if live entertainment was included) is the Picture (or Movie) Palace. For a building to be considered a Palace it had to have at least a certain number of seats. Some places that call themselves Palaces are not. The Al Ringling Theatre is an example of this because it does not come close to having enough seats even though it has a large and beautiful auditorium.

Arguing over the differences in the words Theatre and Cinema seems to be a bit useless to me. The distinction between the two have never been completely clear seeing that live Theatres have been converted to show films and Theatres built specifically to show films have been converted into live Theatre venues. This confusion does not even include spaces that were converted into TV and radio studios in the 40s and 50s, some of which were live Theatres and others were film Theatres.

There seems to be more important things that could be argued about.

Thanx,
William

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Adam Martin
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From: Dallas, TX
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 - posted March 16, 2005 07:37 PM      Profile for Adam Martin   Author's Homepage   Email Adam Martin         Edit/Delete Post 
To be listed on Cinematour, the building needs to have had *regular* *public* showings of movies for a reasonable period of time, preferably with some sort of permanent setup.

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Ron Newman
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From: Somerville, MA
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 - posted March 17, 2005 06:57 AM      Profile for Ron Newman   Email Ron Newman         Edit/Delete Post 
CinemaTour lists the Colonial and Wilbur theatres in Boston, but to my knowledge movies have never been shown in either one. They are live stages only.

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David Wodeyla
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From: Natick, MA
Registered: Jun 2004


 - posted March 17, 2005 01:46 PM      Profile for David Wodeyla   Author's Homepage   Email David Wodeyla         Edit/Delete Post 
That's correct, Ron. I've also noticed that in the Film Daily Yearbooks of the 1930's, civic auditoriums with or even without fixed permanent seats, that were used for live shows of the era are listed.

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Ron Newman
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From: Somerville, MA
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 - posted March 17, 2005 07:31 PM      Profile for Ron Newman   Email Ron Newman         Edit/Delete Post 
> Here in the US I have rarely seen a place that shows films called a Cinema.

As a common noun, you're right -- people here would not say "we're going to a cinema after dinner". They'd say "we're going to a movie theatre".

However, "Cinema" with a capital C is often part of the proper name of a movie theatre. Around here we once had the Allston Cinemas, Central Square Cinemas, Janus Cinema, Cinema 733, Cinema 57, Nickelodeon Cinemas, Orson Welles Cinemas, Off the Wall Cinema, and Academy Twin Cinemas -- sadly, all closed now. Fortunately, we still have the Embassy Cinema, West Newton Cinema, and Kendall Square Cinema.

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Adam Martin
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 - posted March 18, 2005 12:14 AM      Profile for Adam Martin   Author's Homepage   Email Adam Martin         Edit/Delete Post 
If there are theaters listed that have never ever shown movies, please email newsroom@cinematour.com and let me know which ones.

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George Gates
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From: Providence, RI
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 - posted August 05, 2005 01:45 PM      Profile for George Gates           Edit/Delete Post 
How many movie theatres are listed in the USA on this site?

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Roger Katz
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From: Thomaston, CT
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 - posted August 05, 2005 06:14 PM      Profile for Roger Katz   Email Roger Katz         Edit/Delete Post 
Currently, 25,198 cinemas from within the United States are listed on this site (along with 1,953 from Canada, 347 from Australia, and 5,587 from elsewhere.)

There are displayed photos of 5,876 United States cinemas (and 647 others.)

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Joe Vogel
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From: Paradise, CA
Registered: Jul 2005


 - posted August 06, 2005 06:10 AM      Profile for Joe Vogel   Email Joe Vogel         Edit/Delete Post 
In the late 1960s, I went to a screening of Howard Hawks' 1932 "Scarface" in a lecture hall at The California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena. The movie was shown in a good-sized hall (bigger than many auditoriums in some modern multiplexes) with a full projection room and stadium seating. It was part of an ongoing program of weekly screenings presented by the school's student association. All screenings were open to the public. I don't know for how long movies were shown there as part of this program, but I believe it went on for many years.

Still, I don't think that halls such as this need to be included in the listings of cinemas. I'd certainly include movie theatres in museums, such as Titus Theaters at New York's Museum of Modern Art, but not ordinary lecture halls that were used to screen movies only once or twice a week. Over many decades, there might have been hundreds, if not thousands of halls in schools, libraries and community buildings which were used for public screenings of movies. It would probably be impossible to identify more than a few of them.

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