Atmospheric Theatre

An atmospheric theatre is a (mostly historical) type of movie palace (cinema) which has an auditorium ceiling that is intended to give the illusion of an open sky as its defining feature. The decorative and architectural elements often convey an impression of being seated in a fantastic foreign setting, which might be anything from a palace or village square to a garden or an outdoor amphitheatre at night Opening on September 4, 1922 in Wichita, Kansas, Orpheum Theatre was the first atmospheric theatre in the United States. Another cinema considered to fully feature the new style was the Majestic Theatre, built in 1929 in San Antonio, Texas in the USA. One of the first in Canada, and likely the longest running in the world is the Lido Theatre in The Pas, Manitoba, Canada. The Lido Theatre was built to represent a Spanish courtyard at night. The Lido is one of the very few atmospherics still running to this day, and has been in the same family for four generations.

The style caught on quickly in the US and around the world, as it promised an escape from the often economically difficult times of the 1930s into a type of fantasy world, where not only the movie but also the building aided the transfer. The setting helped people forget reality for a time.

The Great Depression made the extravagantly designed theaters of the 1920s too expensive to build. The classically designed theaters required an elaborate auditorium ceiling, usually with one or more grand chandeliers. An atmospheric theater only required a simple, smooth dome with a sprinkle of low-wattage lights to simulate twinkling stars with some also featuring projected, or painted, clouds. This is not to say atmospheric theaters were always simple in design. The side walls of the theaters often featured very complex elements that created a fantasy outdoor setting like being in a village, garden, or on the grounds of a grand palace.

The main proponent of the style was John Eberson, who built the first cinema of its style, and before his death designed around 500 in the US and around the world, personally selecting the furnishings and art objects. While he had many competitors, none "had quite the same air of midsummer's night in dreamland as Eberson's originals".

Read more about Atmospheric Theatre:  Examples

Famous quotes containing the words atmospheric and/or theatre:

    Nor has science sufficient humanity, so long as the naturalist overlooks the wonderful congruity which subsists between man and the world; of which he is lord, not because he is the most subtile inhabitant, but because he is its head and heart, and finds something of himself in every great and small thing, in every mountain stratum, in every new law of color, fact of astronomy, or atmospheric influence which observation or analysis lay open.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

    The theatre is the involuntary reflex of the ideas of the crowd.
    Sarah Bernhardt (1845–1923)