THEATER

When you’re building terrain for your collection, don’t forget to add a little flair. A movie theater is a good idea, whether it’s vintage or modern it would be an excellent little eye catchers for your urban combat table.

French Theater bombed during World War 2

Whether out on a date, filling a few hours between trains, or just to get out of the house, the world has loved going to the movies from the first reel to the present day. By the 1920s, no American town worthy of the name was complete without a theater – and those that didn’t have one often set up a retractable screen inside the local opera house.

The biggest and grandest, rightly called “movie palaces,” were built new from the ground up. No expense was spared in construction, particularly on the highly visible front with its ornate decorations and the all-important marquee that blazed to life at twilight. Inside, attention was lavished on every furnishing, from lamps to seats to the stage itself. One of the key attractions in the years before “talking pictures” was a massive pipe organ, providing a “sound track” to accompany the action on screen, as well as the music for audience sing-alongs.

One of the major problems for theater owners was a tremendous drop in business once the weather turned warm. The last place people wanted to be was inside with hundreds of other people on a muggy night. But that changed quickly with the arrival of air conditioning. Often the first building in town with the new fangled air cooling equipment, people began flocking to theaters to escape the heat for a few hours. Studios began holding the release of major pictures until warm weather to turn bigger profits and early summer is still one of the most important periods for the launch of new movies.

Popcorn and candy have long been part of their appeal, but the theater also became a social center. Always a busy location (especially in areas where lots of folks worked second or third shifts), most theaters could count restaurants, candy kitchens and ice cream parlors among their next-door neighbors, as these businesses served people coming to or going home from the show.

As downtown areas faded in the postwar years, so too did the once great movie houses. Many were closed and bulldozed as the interiors required major work to make them suitable for most other occupants. Lucky for us though, a fair number survived and have been restored to their former glory. Many now show classic movies, are home to small theater groups and provide a venue for live stage shows.

So don’t hesitate. Add a little flair to your collection, and start building today. And remember to email me the pictures so I can post them on the blog!

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