Your garden-variety multiplex probably resembles a concrete box with interiors sporting giant movie ads and sterile seating areas. But there are still a number of surviving theatres that show off the glamour and scope of cinema in its heyday. Photographer Franck Bohbot’s recent series documents just that.
Bohbot’s beautiful medium format images portray the ornate, and sometimes garish, elegance of California movie theatres. Many of them, such as the Grand Lake theatre in Oakland, or the Crest Westwood in Los Angeles, were built in first half of the twentieth century and feature incredible art deco design.
Reflecting on the memories of the golden age of Hollywood, it gives the feeling that there is no such place like a movie theatre to celebrate the birth of film from an artist. “The greatest emotion I have ever had in my life took place in the dark” and not in front of a smartphone or television. I have decided to spotlight the grandiose movie palaces to the independent movie houses. This is Cinema.
Bohbot isn’t the first to photograph movie theatres in such a way. Hiroshi Sugimoto’s 1978 series “Theatres” included large format black and white images of similar locations. However, while Sugimoto’s images focus more on the effects of the light emitted from the theatre screen, Bohbot’s photos are more of a cataloging of the full visual makeup of the spaces.