A hundred years ago, roughly 90 million Americans would stop by their local cinema at least once a week to take in the latest Chaplin, Keaton or Garbo flick. Nowadays, weekly attendances are a fraction of that figure – a modern reality mirrored across the globe.Cinemas, and cinema chains, have spent decades recalibrating and re-gearingthemselves for these new economics, offering luxe experiences, fancy dining options, comfier seats, cheaper tickets and memberships, and programming tailored for their specific audiences. Inevitably, though, some of those old picture houses – many of them grand 1920s Art Deco palaces – have fallen into disrepair along the way.
As veteran photographer Simon Edelstein’s book ‘Abandoned Cinemas of the World’ records, some have been repurposed and some abandoned altogether. All of them are haunted by the ghosts of old movies, classic movie stars and those rapt bygone audiences. Join us on a worldwide tour of these haunted picture houses.
1. Ram Prakash Theatre,Jaipur, India
The culture-loving maharaja who first built this Victorian-inspired edifice as a theatre would no doubt have been delighted to know it would eventually become a home to the movies – a medium that was still a pipe dream when he built it in 1879. That didn’t happen until the 1940s, by which time its reputation as a famous theatre had cemented across India. Since then, it was sold to a private owner and closed down after an ownership dispute.
2. Loew’sMajestic Theater, Connecticut, USA
Renaissance style came to the seaside New England town of Bridgeport when this 2200-seat theatre opened in 1922, in a building it would share with another cinema, the Loew’s Poli. Its Italian frescoes, marble and stained glass mural in the lobby gave it the vague air of 16th century Florence – if 16th century Florence has been designed by Jack Warner or Louis B Mayer. But the Majestic wasn’t averse of going low brow when it helped get bums on seats: a 1935 screening of Bela Lugosi horrorMark of the Vampiresaw a woman hired to scream when the terror ramped up. Its owners, Loew’s (now AMC), finally closed it down in 1967, impacted by the decline of the town’s factories. Nowadays, the seats are gone and the marbled lobby acts as storage space for a theatre company.
3. Teatro Campoamor, Havana, Cuba
Named after Spanish poet Ramón de Campoamor, but very much modelled on Broadway’s big theatres, this crumbling structure was once Cuba’s only American-style theatre. It would seat 2500 Havanas, once for operas, then movies, packed into its three tiers. It shut its doors for the final time in 1965, six years after Castro took power, and became a garage for mopeds, until lumps of concrete began falling from its superstructure. Incongruously, it sits right next door to Havana’s vast, manicured Capitol building, palm trees nosing out from amid the rubble and acaretaker, Reynoldo, and his dog living inside.
4. Le Chateau, Montreal, Canada
Spinning the old adage about cinemas being a church for movie lovers on its head, this Montreal movie house is now literally a church – and not even the kind that John Woo would unleash a gun battle and about 600 doves into, but an evangelical congregation whose worship is backdropped by an old proscenium. Once upon a time, this Art Deco building was a fixture for mostly French-speaking cinemagoers in this working class corner of the city. Its facade remains: floral and pre-Columbian motifs, and enough gold leaf to make Smaug’s eyes water.
5. Paris Theatre, Bangkok, Thailand
Cheek-by-jowl with the Marble Temple and Thailand’s royal palace in Bangkok’s Dusit district is a cinema that was once pretty palatial even in that company. The emergence of big multiplex chains in the city put the Paris Theater out of business in the mid-2000s, but a sense of faded grandeur still lingers in its chandeliered atrium, wooden staircases and projection rooms still littered with old cine reels. It’s now used as makeshift housing for itinerant workers and sex workers.
6. Gaumont,Exeter, UK
Opened by a local MP in 1932, this Devon cinema welcomed 1499 moviegoers, paying 3p a pop, to watch a musical comedy calledSunshine Susieon its first night. Unusually, cinemagoers would enter via a gate facing onto the street, with the standalone theatre set back in a courtyard. It was blessed with a Wurlitzer organ, a large dome in the ceiling, and, in a leftfield touch, murals depicting medieval life. The Gaumont had a storied life, surviving local government censorship that stopped it showingFrankensteinand taking a direct hit from a Luftwaffe bomb during the war. Competition from television in the ’60s sparked its demise and it’s now a bingo club.
7. Gali Jagat Cinema, Delhi
The ticket prices on the old lobby blackboard – 33 rupees (about 30p) – hint at when this much-loved Delhi cinema last welcomed film lovers to watch classic Hindi movies. In the ’60s, it was K Asif's historical epicMughal-e-Azam.In the early ’70s,the Hindustan Timesrecords one local who would bring his family to see swooning romancePakeezaevery day via horse-drawn tonga, leaving whenits big musical numberwas finished. But that was then; nowadays, it’s an eerie space sandwiched between dining spots and haunted by stray cats. The ghosts of those old Hindi greats, too.
8. Santos Suarez, Havana, Cuba
Few cities’ cinema cultures have gone from boom to bust quite as dramatically as Havana. The Cuban capital, which once boasted more cinema seats than New York, is now a graveyard of old cinemas – much to the chagrin of nostalgic children of the 1950s and early ’60s who grew up with weekly family outings to their local picture houses. The revolution swept away Hollywood movies, ushering in a post-revolution ‘Golden Age’ of Cuban filmmaking but also a slow decline in the cinemas themselves, starved of funding and, one by one, shuttering. More recently a fruit market, this overgrown Art Deco gem is located in Santos Suarez, a hilly neighbourhood that boasts a clutch of abandoned cinemas.
9. Cine Theatre Palace, Marrakesh, Morocco
There’s barely enough of it left to fita popcorn concession, but this Francophilecinema was once the oldest and grandest in the very old and grand city of Marrakech. Originally a kind of North African counterpart to France’s Eden, the oldest cinema in the world, it opened in the mid-1920s with two indoor screens catering for film-thirsty Moroccans (sadly, there’s no record as to whetherCasablancaplayed here). It closed down in 1984 and,despite a campaign to save it, was part-demolished in 2018. Its fate mirrors the sad decline of moviegoing as a whole in Morocco, a country that once boasted 240 theatres but that now has less than a tenth of that number.
10. Volturno, Rome, Italy
When cinemas fall on tough times, the whirl of projectors is often eventually replaced by the bellows of bingo callers. Thanks to some help from a group of campaigners, this century-old cinema in central Rome has just about avoided becoming another bingo hall like so many others – although after a spell as a porn theatre and a strip club, it’s now boarded up. But for decades it packed in movie-loving Romans for silver screen classics, variety shows and other cultural activities that feel a lot more, well, cultural in a plushly-appointed and domed theatre in central Rome.
11. Northwick, Worcester, UK
Once a 1100-seat cinema, this Grade II listed building closed as a picture house in 1966 with a Dean Martin spy spoof,The Silencers. It was bad news for movie lovers in the cathedral town of Worcester, for whom it had been a second church for a quarter of a century (though great news for bingo fans – the cavernous ex-cinema would be ringing with bingo lingo within months). Perhaps fittingly, for an ornate space that still features relief plasterwork by interior designer John Alexander, it’s now a home furnishings showroom, teeming with table lamps and chandeliers.
‘Abandoned Cinemas of the World’ ispublished byJonglezand available onAmazon.
Take a look inside the eerie, breathtaking world of America’s ghost cinemas.
101 places all movie lovers should visit.
Which is the biggest cinema in the world? ›
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 one 996-seat auditorium.What is the oldest cinema in the world? ›
The oldest purpose-built cinema in operation is the Eden Theâtre (France, est. 21 March 1899), which has been operational for 122 years 102 days, in La Ciotat, France, as of 1 July 2021. The theatre was first opened on 15 June 1889 in La Ciotat, known as the birth city of cinema.Which is the biggest multiplex in India? ›
PVR is India's largest multiplex chain with more than 850 screens, followed by INOX Leisure with about 650 screens.Which conjuring is the scariest? ›
The original “The Conjuring” is still the classiest, spookiest, most satisfying film in the franchise.
The Panasonic IMAX Theatre at Darling Harbour, Sydney, Australia holds the largest fixed projection screen in the world, measuring 35.72m x 29.57 m (117 ft x 97 ft). It opened in September 1996 and can seat 540 people.Which country has most theatres in the world? ›
According to the most recent statistics, China currently has 65,500 cinema screens. As a comparison, the USA has 35,280, India 11,962 and the UK 3,402.Where is world's largest IMAX screen? ›
The world's largest IMAX screen currently stands in Leonberg near Stuttgart, Germany and measures 38 by 22 m (125 by 72 ft). Until 2021, the largest operating IMAX screen was located within the Melbourne Museum in Melbourne, Australia, measuring 32 m × 23 m (105 ft × 75 ft).In which country there is no cinema? ›
Saudi Arabia is the country in the world to have no cinema theaters. With the exception of one IMAX theater in Khobar by Khalid, there were no cinemas in Saudi Arabia from 1983 to 2018, although there was occasionally talk of opening movie theaters, and in 2008 conference rooms were rented to show the comedy Mennahi.What is the longest running movie theater? ›
The oldest continuously operating cinema theatre is the Washington Iowa State Theatre (USA) in Washington, Iowa, USA, which opened on 14 May 1897, and as of 26 January 2022 has been in continuous operation for 124 years, 257 days.Which country has oldest cinema? ›
The world's first cinema
The Eden Theatre in La Ciotat on the southern coast of France was one of the first theaters that the Lumière brothers chose to screen their films.
Which is the biggest screen in Asia? ›
V Epiq, the new cinema hall does justice to its name by sporting a 100X54 feet flat-screen claimed to be the largest in South Asia. Constructed at a cost of Rs.Which Indian city has most Theatres? ›
In India, Mumbai has the most multiplexes of any city. There is only one single-screen theatre in each of the eight cities that is more expensive to watch than the next. In the fiscal year 2021, the company operated the most screens in Maharashtra, with a total of about 151.What is the world's scariest movie? ›
- 7/15 The Exorcist (1973)
- 6/15 Dawn of the Dead (1978)
- 5/15 Halloween (1978)
- 4/15 The Shining (1980)
- 3/15 Alien (1979)
- 2/15 Psycho (1960)
- 1/15 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
"The Exorcist" (1973)
Often referred to as the scariest horror movie in history, “The Exorcist” is based on a true story.
Parents need to know that The Conjuring is a truly scary horror movie that's based on a true story about a haunted house, a demon possession, and an exorcism. It's more frightening than gory; no characters die (except a dog), and not much blood is shown, except during an intense demon-possession scene at the climax.How scary is Annabelle? ›
There's lots of bloody horror, splattering blood, and scary images, plus some jump-shock moments, shooting, fighting, and dead bodies. A pregnant woman and, later, a small child are in jeopardy. It's all pretty terrifying.What is the scariest Annabelle? ›
- Annabelle (2014)
- Anabelle: Creation (2017)
- Annabelle 3 (2019)
Ghost (2020 film)
|Directed by||Anthony Z James|
|Written by||Anthony Z James|
|Produced by||Anthony Z James Domas Vilcinskas|
|Starring||Anthony Mark Streeter Nathan Hamilton Russell Barnett|
Ghost movies tend to be the perfect scary-movie cocktail of otherworldly creepiness, jump scares, and psychological trickery. So if you're in the mood to feel something—anything!Is Ghost story scary? ›
It is a form of supernatural fiction and specifically of weird fiction, and is often a horror story. While ghost stories are often explicitly meant to scare, they have been written to serve all sorts of purposes, from comedy to morality tales.
How old is the movie Ghost? ›
|Release date||July 13, 1990|
|Running time||127 minutes|
After a banker is shot and killed, his ghost lingers on Earth and enlists the help of a spirited psychic to warn the woman he loves that she's in danger. Watch all you want.How do I watch Ghost? ›
Ghosts, a sitcom series starring Rose McIver, Utkarsh Ambudkar, and Brandon Scott Jones is available to stream now. Watch it on Prime Video, VUDU, Spectrum TV, Vudu Movie & TV Store, Paramount Plus, Apple TV, CBS, Pluto TV - It's Free TV or The Roku Channel on your Roku device.Where is we have a ghost filming? ›
According to Productionlist.com, "We Have A Ghost" recently started filming, shooting between June 28, 2021 and August 30, 2021, which Landon confirmed on his Twitter. The movie is reported to be filming in New Orleans, Louisiana, a popular city for the entertainment industry.What age rating is Ghost? ›
Great movie that holds up, but too violent, profane, and intense for younger kids. Take the PG-13 rating seriously. There is a reason it was the most popular film of its year and is still considered a classic over 30 years later.What is the rated the number one scariest movie ever made? ›
1. The Exorcist (1973) You may not agree that The Exorcist is the scariest movie ever, but it probably also isn't much of a surprise to see it at the top of our list — with a whopping 19% of all the votes cast.What is the most famous scary story? ›
- Frankenstein. by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. ...
- Dracula. by Bram Stoker. ...
- 'Young Goodman Brown' by Nathaniel Hawthorne. ...
- 'The Tell-Tale Heart' by Edgar Allan Poe. ...
- 'Carmilla' by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. ...
- 'The Turn Of The Screw' by Henry James. ...
- 'The Great God Pan' by Arthur Machen. ...
- 'The Monkey's Paw' by W. W. Jacobs.
A virtual store exists only on the internet, with no physical shop front. They might still have their own warehouses to store the goods, but shoppers can't visit them in person. Just like a ghost, you can see it — but you can't touch it.Was Ghost a successful movie? ›
Ghost made over a half-billion dollars to become the third highest-grossing movie of all time (at that time), and absolutely no one saw it coming. It was a cultural phenomenon nearly identical to the impact James Cameron's Titanic would have 7 years later.
Who was the killer in Ghost? ›
After spending five episodes building up the “Who shot Ghost” mystery, the Power series finale revealed that Tariq (Michael Rainey Jr.) is the one who pulled the trigger.When did Ghost come out? ›