More than 100 years after the first movie delighted audiences, movie theaters remain the last great community centers and one of the few amusements any family can afford. While countless books have been devoted to films and their stars, none have attempted a truly definitive history of those magical venues that have transported moviegoers since the beginning of the last century. In this stunningly illustrated book, film industry insiders Ross Melnick and Andreas Fuchs take readers from the nickelodeon to the megaplex and show how changes in moviemaking and political, social, and technological forces (e.g., war, depression, the baby boom, the VCR) have influenced the way we see movies. Photographs from archives like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and movie theater ephemera (postcards, period ads, matchbooks, and even a "barf bag") sourced from private collections complement Melnick's informative and engaging history. Also included throughout the book are Fuchs' profiles detailing 25 classic movie theaters that have been restored and renovated and which continue to operate today. Each of these two-page spreads is illustrated with marvelous modern photographs, many taken by top architectural photographers. The result is a fabulous look at one way in which Americans continue to come together as a nation. A timeline throughout places the developments described in a broader historical context.
"Humble or grandiose, stand-alone or strung together, movie theaters are places where dreams are born. Once upon a time, they were treated with the respect they deserve. In their heyday, historian Ross Melnick and exhibitor Andreas Fuchs write in Cinema Treasures, openings of new motion-picture pleasure palaces that would have dazzled Kubla Khan 'received enormous attention in newspapers around the country. On top of the publicity they generated, their debuts were treated like the gala openings of new operas or exhibits, with critics weighing in on everything from the interior and exterior design to the orchestra.' Handsomely produced and extensively illustrated, Cinema Treasures is detailed without being dull and thoroughly at home with this often neglected subject matter. Its title would have you believe it is a celebration of the golden age of movie theaters. But this book is something completely different: an examination of the history of movie exhibition, which the authors accurately call 'a vastly under-researched topic.'" - Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
"We've had a number of beautiful books about the great movie palaces, and even some individual volumes that pay tribute to surviving theaters around the country. This is the first book I can recall that focuses on the survivors, from coast to coast, and puts them into historical context. Sumptuously produced in an oversized format, on heavy coated paper stock, this beautiful book offers a lively history of movie theaters in America , an impressive array of photos and memorabilia, and a heartening survey of the landmarks in our midst, from the majestic Fox Tucson Theatre in Tucson, Arizona to the charming jewel-box that is the Avon in Stamford, Connecticut. I don't know why, but I never tire of gazing at black & white photos of marquees from the past; they evoke the era of moviemaking (and moviegoing) I care about the most, and this book is packed with them. Cinema Treasures is indeed a treasure, and a perfect gift item for the holiday season. - Leonard Maltin