Wide-Format Camera Captures the Decay of Movie Theaters in America

Fox Theatre, Inglewood, CA | Marchand and Meffre

Taken with a large-format camera, these incredible photos shed light on the decay and abandonment of movie theaters in the United States.

The once thriving movie palaces were captured in their current empty, abandoned form by pioneer photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre.

Paris natives have traveled the length and breadth of the United States to visit former movie theaters such as the Paramount Theater in Brooklyn, New York, which has been converted into a gym.

Long’s Theater in Pasadena, Texas has now become a weapons center, while the State Theater in West Orange, New Jersey has become a bus depot.

Paramount Theatre, Brooklyn, NY | Marchand and Meffre
Pasadena, Texas | Marchand and Meffre
State Theatre, West Orange, NJ | Marchand and Meffre
Metropolitan Opera House, Philadelphia, PA | Marchand and Meffre

Fascinating photo set collected in a new book, Movie TheatersPublished by Prestel.

Famous photography duo Marchand and Meffre have been traveling the USA since 2005, capturing a rich variety of architectural styles from neo-renaissance to neo-Gothic, art nouveau to Bauhaus, and neo-Byzantine to Jugendstill.

“Every American city and town has splendid movie palaces built during the heyday of the entertainment industry, now abandoned, empty, decaying or redesigned,” Prestel says.

“They also stepped inside to capture the common traits of a dying culture – crumbling plaster, broken crushed velvet bench seats, peeling paint, disused equipment and abandoned concession stands – and their transformation into bingo halls, warehouses, gyms. flea markets, parking lots and convenience stores.”

Eastown Theatre, Detroit, MI | Marchand and Meffre
Paramount Theatre, Newark, NJ | Marchand and Meffre
Robins Theatre, Warren, Ohio | Marchand and Meffre
RKO Keith’s Flushing Theatre, Queens, NY | Marchand and Meffre

Marchand and Meffre use a large format that forces them to carefully consider each photograph. According to the duo, it’s “the fairest and most motivating way to build an image.”

Each image is discussed and agreed upon before it is shot, thus sealing the formation of the duo. The large format camera also allows large prints to be made.

Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre in 2019

This project builds on the duo’s previous creation Detroit Ruins He discovered the famous abandoned buildings in Detroit.

TV Kills Cinema Palace

The concept of movie venues peaked in the 1920s when hundreds opened in the United States, often opulent as Art Deco theaters became popular in the 1930s.

Proctor’s Theatre, Troy, NY | Marchand and Meffre
Texas Theatre, San Angelo, Texas | Marchand and Meffre

However, the advent of television began to affect the attendance of movie theaters, with large multiplex chains paying for luxury single-screen theaters.

Movie Theaters It’s out now and can be purchased here. You can find more of Marchand and Meffre’s work on their website.


Image credit: All photos by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre.

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