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Movie theater
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Movie theater

A movie theater or cinema is a location, usually a building, for viewing movies. Other colloquial names include the silver screen and the big screen (contrasted with the "small screen" of television). Generally, theaters are not owned by individuals, but rather operated by corporations and visited by the general public: one can enter after buying a ticket. There are often several rooms, each showing another movie; such a theater is called a multiplex, and if very large, a megaplex. Sometimes a popular movie is shown in more than one room. The film is projected with a movie projector onto a large projection screen at the front of the room.

There are a variety of movie theatres:

Some movie theaters are converted from conventional theaters, and some theaters may be temporarily converted to show movies.

Some movie theaters are outdoors and so can only be used when it is dark. A drive-in movie theater is basically a parking lot with a screen at one end and a projection booth at the other. Moviegoers drive into the parking spaces which are usually provided with portable loudspeakers or the vehicle's sound system over which the soundtrack is played, and the movie is viewed through the car windscreen. Drive-in movies were mainly found in the United States, and were especially popular in the 1950s and 1960s, but are now almost extinct.

Some outdoor movie theaters are just cleared areas where the audience sits upon chairs or blankets and watch the movie on a temorary screen, or even the wall of a convenient building.

According to motion picture rating systems, children or teenagers below a certain age may be forbidden access to theaters showing certain movies, or simply subject to parental guidance.

Sometimes couples go to a movie theater for the additional reason that it provides the possibility of some physical intimacy, where the dark provides some privacy (with additional privacy in the back-row). This applies in particular for young people who still live with their parents, and these parents tend to monitor and/or forbid certain activities. Compared with being together in a room without other people, it may also be reassuring for one or both of the couple (and for parents) that the intimacy is necessarily limited.

Arm rests may be a hindrance for intimacy. Some theaters have love seats: seats for two without armrest in the middle. More expensive theaters have large comfortable sofas.

Movie theaters usually sell various snack foods and drinks which often represents the real income of the business. Some movie theaters forbid eating and drinking inside the viewing room (they are restricted to the lobby), while others encourage it, e.g. by selling large portions of popcorn.

See also