GOING ATTRACTIONS: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace

When it comes to film history and filmmaking, I always try to expand my knowledge when I can. What kind of self-respecting film fanatic and critic would I be if I didn’t try to know as much as possible? This is why I not only hunt down documentaries, but try to shine a light on them so more people can benefit from the hard work and research put into them.

Speaking of which, you may remember a few years back I covered "Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the American Drive-in Movie". Well filmmaker April Wright is at it again with her follow up documentary "Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace".

Movie Palaces are all but gone now, but they were booming during the pre-depression era and roared through the ‘30s - bringing America a truly lavish Hollywood experience.

In short, "Going Attractions" is about movie theaters. It covers the history of nickelodeons and the earliest movie theaters that were little more than a projector set up in a store front. The success of this new novelty generated millions and sent a message to studio heads that movie goers need a suitable place to view films. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that the success of early theaters created a need for new films. The movie going audience was insatiable and this which helped build Hollywood into an industry.

These movie palaces were just that, palaces. Enormous, elaborately ornate theaters that seated thousands. Decorated with intricate woodworking, gold leaf, fresco paintings and exotic facades. They treated your average Joe to all the decadence of Hollywood and waited on him hand and foot all for just the price of admission.

“Other countries built palaces for royalty; in the United States we built them to watch movies.”

Wright chronicles the popularity of these theaters as well as their eventual decline, as they fell victim to fickle movie goers, the popularity of television, the multi-plex, disrepair and eventually urban renewal.

The history of the movie palace is a fascinating one. Their indelible mark on Hollywood and the movie going experience is something that should be remembered.

"Going Attractions" hit a cord with me as my home town still has one (one of about a five) of these movie palaces, a Warner Theater, that has been restored and maintained over the years. It hosts any number of events throughout the year, from touring Broadway plays to film festivals and even concerts. I’ve even seen Alice Cooper preform there. The Warner Theater is a gem of my town.

If you are at all interested in Hollywood history, movie palaces, or you happen to have one of these theaters still standing in your town, April Wright’s "Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace" is a must! And why not check out "Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the American Drive-in Movie" while your at it.

For more information about "Going Attractions" and dates where and when the film will be screened make sure to check out the "Going Attractions" website. Soon the film will also be made available on VOD & DVD in April by the fine people over at Passion River.


★ ★ ★ ★

"The evolution of the movie business over the past century, from penny arcades and nickelodeons, to the grand movie palaces built by the studios, and what happened over the years as they were challenged by television and cell-phone cinema."