The Plight of Movie Theatres in the Electronic Age

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Given the central nature of movies to American culture during most of the twentieth century, movie theatres themselves have become cultural icons, representing the magical allure of American dreams, myths and tragedies. From 5,000 upstart nick-elodeons in 1907 to 25,000 glorious theatres in the 1920s to less than 19,000 screens at the end of the 1980s, the number of theatres has fluctuated throughout this century. This paper describes many of the factors that have led to the closure and disappearance of thousands of the original, single-screen theatres built during the Golden Age of Movie Houses. A similar pattern is evident in the history of Japan's movie theatres. Following a peak in movie attendance in 1955, many of the same problems cited in the United States began to impinge on the Japanese movie industry and the number of theatres now is significantly less than thirty years ago.

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