The auditorium at Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds. Photograph: Tom Joy/Heritage Lottery Fund
A tiny cinema that opened in Leeds within months of the outbreak of the first world war, now believed to be the only one in the world still lit by gas, has won a £2.4m heritage lottery grant to restore historic features and open up its archives.
The Hyde Park Picture House is among a dozen sites receiving major grants, including William Morris’s beautiful Oxfordshire country home, Kelmscott Manor, where the flowers and wildlife inspired many of his designs.
Now owned by the local authority, the Grade II-listed Hyde Park still has 11 working gas lamps, though the imposing lantern on the facade, which is separately listed, was converted to electricity.
Its single-screen auditorium shows films every day, having seen off the competition of the giant jazz-age cinemas with their thousands of seats and luxurious facilities, the coming of television, and the more recent rise of out-of-town multiplexes.
The Capri Theatre was opened in 1941 as the New Goodwood Star Theatre. It was built by RJ Nurse and designed by architect Mr Chris Smith (Architect). The Theatre’s architectural style is art deco/modern.
This style is highlighted by the curvaceous lines, circles and semi-circles, a feature of the Capri and of the 1940’s architectural era. The Capri originally had a seating capacity of 1,472.
The Capri Theatre opened its doors for its first night of trade in October 1941, to a double feature from MGM of ‘Florian’ which starred Robert Young and Helen Gilbert, as well as ‘Dr. Kildare Goes Home’, starring Lew Ayres and Lionel Barrymore.
Greater Union acquired the Theatre in 1947. In 1964, the Theatre was re-branded the ‘New Cinema Curzon’
In 1967 Greater Union undertook some capital works on the Theatre, and reduced the seating capacity to 851.
1978 was the year that TOSA, (Theatre Organ Society of Australia SA Division) purchased the Theatre and in December re-named it ‘Capri Theatre’.
The inaugural Capri ‘Wurlitzer’ concert was held on 2nd April 1983.
In 1986, Crocodile Dundee played at the Capri Theatre and was hugely successful, playing for almost one full calendar year and helping TOSA (SA Division) complete their loan and thus own the Theatre outright.
The Capri Theatre was added to the South Australia register of state heritage items in 1990.
In 2012, the Capri Theatre upgraded its film technology by purchasing a brand new digital film projector.
The world’s oldest surviving public movie theater, the Eden Theatre in the town of La Ciotat 20 miles east of Marseille on the south coast of France, has been restored and reopened after 30 years of neglect.
In a gala opening this little town’s prominent place in film history was reclaimed with a showing of some of the first moving pictures ever filmed, shot in 1895 by the Lumière brothers in La Ciotat’s summer sun.
In 1892, Antoine Lumière, father of the soon-to-be-famous brothers, had a seaside mansion built in La Ciotat. A friend of his had introduced him to the town and he had fallen in love with its charms.
After construction on the Tuscan-style villa known as Château Lumière was completed in 1893, entire family spent summers there. The timing was ideal to make the sleepy town of 12,000 a dominant figure in movie history.
According to one popular view of events, Antoine saw Edison’s Kinetoscope in Paris in 1894 and suggested to his sons that they look into improving on Edison’s device which was heavy, dependent on electricity and only allowed one person at a time to view the motion picture through a peephole.
Within months, Louis had invented combination device that shot the film, developed it and projected it.
The brothers patented the Cinématographe on February 13th, 1895, using the name of an earlier recording and projecting device patented by Léon Bouly in February of 1892.
By 1894 Bouly could no longer afford the fees to renew his patents, so the Lumière’s snapped up the name.
Some historians believe Louis took more than just the name from Bouly’s device, but if so, he improved upon it drastically. Louis insisted he came up with the idea all on his own, denying even the story about his father and the Kinetoscope.
On March 22nd, 1895, the first movie audience witnessed La Sortie de l’Usine (“Exiting the factory”), less than a minute of footage of workers, mainly women, leaving the Lumière photographic plate factory in Lyons shot three days before the showing.
This demonstration took place in Paris for a private audience at the Société d’Encouragement pour l’Industrie Nationale (Society for the Encouragement of National Industry).
Robocop, tiny urban alleys, and gremlins are all just a part of the fascinating prop and miniature set collection held at the Musée Miniature et Cinéma.
Founded by miniature setting artist Dan Ohlmann, the museum holds over a thousand pieces of down-scaled locations such as a school room and a fully-furnished dining room which are so detailed that they could pass for their full-size inspirations.
The site also includes such tiny tchotchkes as carved matchsticks, chiseled egg shells, and micro-origami.
In addition to all of the tiny pieces of sculpture the museum’s other focus is on special effects and creatures from the movies.
In this section of the museum visitors can see props and costumes from such films as I, Robot, Stuart Little, and Hellboy.
Even with all of the micro amazements, the excitement the Musée Miniature et Cinéma is immense.
With its nearly 6,000 seats and multi-tiered balconies, the Roxy Theatre was the showplace of New York City and of the nation.
Construction began on March 22, 1926 and it opened on March 11, 1927 with Gloria Swanson in “The Loves of Sonya”.
It was designed by architect Walter W. Ahlschlager of Chicago (who also designed New York’s Beacon Theatre), with interior decoration by Harold W. Rambusch of New York.
Its rather modest entrance at the corner of the Taft Hotel building disguised one of the most cavernous lobbies ever built and a magnificent auditorium that has lived on in its patrons’ imagination.
Whatever adjectives can be used for the Roxy Theatre, they all fail to signify the theatre’s achievement.
Sadly, the decline in attendance that had begun in the 1950’s spilled over into the early-1960’s and the Roxy Theatre closed with Dirk Bogarde in “The Wind Cannot Read” which began its run on March 9, 1960.
Despite numerous protests, it was razed in 1961. In its place sits a nondescript and unremarkable office building.
The neighboring Taft Hotel survives to this day (now the Michangelo Hotel) and is the only evidence that this epic structure was ever here. A TGI Friday’s restaurant occupies the theatres’ original entrance.
The legacy of the Roxy Theatre is almost as impressive as the theater itself once was.
The name ‘Roxy’ has since adorned movie theaters, nightclubs, restaurants and a host of other establishments around the world all attempting to give to their patrons what Roxy always brought to its own: entertainment.
The end of the Roxy Theatre signified the beginning of the end for thousands of movie palaces across the country.
With its destruction, New York City began to destroy its past for urban renewal and the city, and movie palaces, have never been the same.