There's been a lot of talk about the fact that shopping malls are being left empty and unused all over the nation as the rules of retail change. But the rules of entertainment are changing as well. More and more people are watching movies at home or on their "mobile devices."Movie theater attendance peaked in 2002 and some think it's now in a permanent decline. Unless 3-D saves the movie theater, we may find ourselves with lots of empty multiplexes as well.
I've noticed a number of empty theaters around Los Angeles, some of which I know closed over the last few years of economic turmoil.Chicago blogger and photographer Lee Bey has documented some of the dead theaters in Illinois and wonders what we should do with them:
Some of the closed multiplexes will become churches, no doubt, as did the old Hillside Theater in the late 1990s, and that's okay. But the rest of them: could they be reused for live community theater? Or if possible, multiplexes of musical acts. Imagine a choice of 10 acts on 10 different stages in a single building.The theaters could also become independent movie houses where the next budding Cassavetes, Micheaux or Lemmons can get their works screened before a live audience?I guess the unique feature of the multiplex is that it has many large tiered spaces in one building. How could that architecture be best repurposed? Community lecture halls? Indoor aquaponic gardens?