Obsolete: movie palaces

On the obsolescence of movie palaces: the movie palaces were built in the heyday of the studio system, when the studios dictated what the moviegoing public could see. Fewer movies played for shorter runs to larger audiences. The shift from mass production to mass customization, from public to private cultural consumption, toward more flexibility in scheduling, and away from mass society in general has undermined this model, resulting in more movies playing to smaller audiences, and more movies watched outside of theaters (i.e., video, TV). Similarly, the market for concerts and live theater performances has been fragmented such that few performances can fill more than a thousand seats. One hope for old theaters may be that even a niche market, given today’s larger population, could fill a venue designed for a mass market: foreign films, punk rock, acts in Spanish or Hindi.

One thought on “Obsolete: movie palaces

  1. Quite a lot of the smaller music venues are a good deal smaller than the palaces. This helpful roundup of venues shows that most that don’t play major-label acts have <500 seats (including Old Town School and the Bottle, with 425 and 400 apiece).

    Came across this while searching for comparable venues to a proposed performing arts venue to replace St. Paul’s Community Church, which has a capacity of around 200.

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