Visitors usually borrow or keep special glasses to wear while watching the movie. Depending on the system used, these are typically polarized glasses. Three-dimensional movies use two images channeled, respectively, to the right and left eyes to simulate depth by using 3-D glasses with red and blue lenses anaglyph , polarized linear and circular , and other techniques.
The earliest 3D movies were presented in the s. There have been several prior "waves" of 3D movie distribution, most notably in the s when they were promoted as a way to offer audiences something that they could not see at home on television.
Still the process faded quickly and as yet has never been more than a periodic novelty in movie presentation. The "golden era" of 3D film began in the early s with the release of the first color stereoscopic feature, Bwana Devil. James Mage was an early pioneer in the 3D craze. Columbia's Man in the Dark and Warner Bros. House of Wax , the first 3D feature with stereophonic sound.
For many years, most 3-D movies were shown in amusement parks and even "4-D" techniques have been used when certain effects such as spraying of water, movement of seats, and other effects are used to simulate actions seen on the screen. The first decline in the theatrical 3D craze started in August and September In , movie exhibitors became more interested in 3D film.
The number of 3D screens in theaters is increasing. The RealD company expects 15, screens worldwide in The availability of 3D movies encourages exhibitors to adopt digital cinema and provides a way for theaters to compete with home theaters. One incentive for theaters to show 3D films is that although ticket sales have declined, revenues from 3D tickets have grown.
The RealD 3D system works by using a single digital projector that swaps back and forth between the images for eyes. A filter is placed in front of the projector that changes the polarization of the light coming from the projector. A silver screen is used to reflect this light back at the audience and reduce loss of brightness. There are four other systems available: When a system is used that requires inexpensive 3D glasses, they can sometimes be kept by the patron.
Most theaters have a fixed cost for 3D, while others charge for the glasses, but the latter is uncommon at least in the United States. IMAX[ edit ] IMAX is a system using film with more than ten times the frame size of a 35 mm film to produce image quality far superior to conventional film. IMAX theaters use an oversized screen as well as special projectors.
Programming[ edit ] Movie theaters may be classified by the type of movies they show or when in a film's release process they are shown: A theater that runs primarily mainstream film fare from the major film companies and distributors, during the initial new release period of each film.
Second-run or discount theater: A theater that runs films that have already shown in the first-run theaters and presented at a lower ticket price.
These are sometimes known as dollar theaters or "cheap seats". This form of cinema is diminishing in viability owing to the increasingly shortened intervals before the films' home video release, called the "video window". A theater that presents more alternative and art films as well as second-run and classic films often known as an "independent cinema" in the UK.
An adult movie theater or sex theater specializes in showing pornographic movies. Such movies are rarely shown in other theaters. See also Golden Age of Porn. Since the widespread availability of pornographic films for home viewing on VHS in the s and s, the DVD in the s, and the Blu-ray disc in the s, there are far fewer adult movie theaters.
IMAX theaters can show conventional movies, but the major benefits of the IMAX system are only available when showing movies filmed using it. Sometimes two feature films are sold as one admission double feature , with a break in between.
Separate admission for a short subject is rare; it is either an extra before a feature film or part of a series of short films sold as one admission this mainly occurs at film festivals.
See also anthology film. In the early decades of "talkie" films, many movie theaters presented a number of shorter items in addition to the feature film. This might include a newsreel , live-action comedy short films, documentary short films, musical short films, or cartoon shorts many classic cartoons series such as the Looney Tunes and Mickey Mouse shorts were created for this purpose.
Examples of this kind of programming are available on certain DVD releases of two of the most famous films starring Errol Flynn as a special feature arrangement designed to recreate that kind of filmgoing experience while the PBS series, Matinee at the Bijou , presented the equivalent content. Some theaters ran on continuous showings, where the same items would repeat throughout the day, with patrons arriving and departing at any time rather than having distinct entrance and exit cycles.
Newsreels gradually became obsolete by the s with the rise of television news, and most material now shown prior to a feature film is of a commercial or promotional nature which usually include " trailers ", which are advertisements for films and commercials for other consumer products or services.
A typical modern theater presents commercial advertising shorts , then movie trailers, and then the feature film. Advertised start times are usually for the entire program or session, not the feature itself;  thus people who want to avoid commercials and trailers would opt to enter later.
This is easiest and causes the least inconvenience when it is not crowded or one is not very choosy about where one wants to sit. If one has a ticket for a specific seat see below one is formally assured of that, but it is still inconvenient and disturbing to find and claim it during the commercials and trailers, unless it is near an aisle.
Some movie theaters have some kind of break during the presentation, particularly for very long films. There may also be a break between the introductory material and the feature. Some countries such as the Netherlands have a tradition of incorporating an intermission in regular feature presentations, though many theaters have now abandoned that tradition,  while in North America, this is very rare and usually limited to special circumstances involving extremely long movies.
During the closing credits many people leave, but some stay until the end. Usually the lights are switched on after the credits, sometimes already during them. Some films show mid-credits scenes while the credits are rolling, which in comedy films are often " BlooperS " and outtakes, or ost-credits scenes , which typically set up the audience for a sequel.
Until the multiplex era, prior to showtime, the screen in some theaters would be covered by a curtain, in the style of a theater for a play. The curtain would be drawn for the feature. It is common practice in Australia for the curtain to cover part of the screen during advertising and trailers, then be fully drawn to reveal the full width of the screen for the main feature. Some theaters, lacking a curtain, filled the screen with slides of some form of abstract art prior to the start of the movie.
Currently, in multiplexes, theater chains often feature a continuous slideshow between showings featuring a loop of movie trivia, promotional material for the theater chains such as encouraging patrons to purchase drinks, snacks and popcorn, gift vouchers and group rates, or other foyer retail offers , or advertising for local and national businesses.
Advertisements for Fandango and other convenient methods of purchasing tickets is often shown. Also prior to showing the film, reminders, in varying forms would be shown concerning theater etiquette no smoking, no talking, no littering, removing crying babies, etc. Some well-equipped theaters have "interlock" projectors which allow two or more projectors and sound units to be run in unison by connecting them electronically or mechanically.
This set up can be used to project two prints in sync for dual-projector 3-D or to "interlock" one or more sound tracks to a single film. Sound interlocks were used for stereophonic sound systems before the advent of magnetic film prints. Likewise, early stereophonic films such as This Is Cinerama and House of Wax utilized a separate, magnetic oxide-coated film to reproduce up to six or more tracks of stereophonic sound.
Datasat Digital Entertainment, purchaser of DTS 's cinema division in May , uses a time code printed on and read off of the film to synchronize with a CD-ROM in the sound track, allowing multi-channel soundtracks or foreign language tracks.
This is not considered a projector interlock, however. This practice is most common with blockbuster movies. For example, there are regular live broadcasts to movie theaters of Metropolitan Opera performances , with additionally limited repeat showings.
Admission prices are often more than twice the regular movie theater admission prices. Pricing and admission[ edit ] Admission prices board, Cinema Museum London Seating indicator Box office of a s style fine arts movie theater. Movie theaters in North America generally have open seating. Cinemas in Europe can have free seating or numbered seating.
In the case of numbered seating systems the attendee can often pick seats from a video screen. Sometimes the attendee cannot see the screen and has to make a choice based on a verbal description of the still available seats. In the case of free seats, already seated customers may be asked by staff to move one or more places for the benefit of an arriving couple or group wanting to sit together. In Australia, Canada and New Zealand, when this practice is used, it is traditional to offer the lower prices for Tuesday for all showings, one of the slowest days of the week in the movie theater business, which has led to the nickname "cheap Tuesday.
Almost all movie theaters employ economic price discrimination: Large theater chains, such as AMC Theaters, also own smaller theaters that show "second runs" of popular films, at reduced ticket prices. Movie theaters in India and other developing countries employ price discrimination in seating arrangement: In the United States, many movie theater chains sell discounted passes, which can be exchanged for tickets to regular showings.
These passes are traditionally sold in bulk to institutional customers and also to the general public at Bulktix. Common restrictions include a waiting period after a movie's release before the pass can be exchanged for a ticket or specific theaters where a pass is ineligible for admission. Some movie theaters and chains sell monthly passes for unlimited entrance to regular showings.
Cinemas in Thailand have a restriction of one viewing per movie. The increasing number of 3D movies, for which an additional fee is required, somewhat undermines the concept of unlimited entrance to regular showings, in particular if no 2D version is screened, except in the cases where 3D is included.
Also for some film festivals, a pass is sold for unlimited entrance. Discount theaters show films at a greatly discounted rate, however, the films shown are generally films that have already run for many weeks at regular theaters and thus are no longer a major draw, or films which flopped at the box office and thus have already been removed from showings at major theaters in order to free up screens for films that are a better box office draw.
Luxury screens[ edit ] Some cinemas in city centers offer luxury seating with services like complimentary refills of soft drinks and popcorn, a bar serving beer, wine and liquor, reclining leather seats and service bells. Cinemas must have a liquor license to serve alcohol. The Vue Cinema and CGV Cinema chain is a good example of a large-scale offering of such a service, called "Gold Class" and similarly, ODEON, Britain's largest cinema chain, have gallery areas in some of their bigger cinemas where there is a separate foyer area with a bar and unlimited snacks.
Admission to a movie may also be restricted by a motion picture rating system , typically due to depictions of sex, nudity or graphic violence.
According to such systems, children or teenagers below a certain age may be forbidden access to theaters showing certain movies, or only admitted when accompanied by a parent or other adult.
In some jurisdictions, a rating may legally impose these age restrictions on movie theaters. Where movie theaters do not have this legal obligation, they may enforce restrictions on their own. Accordingly, a movie theater may either not be allowed to program an unrated film, or voluntarily refrain from that.
According to The Contemporary Hollywood Film Industry, Philip Drake states that box office takings currently account for less than a quarter of total revenues and have become increasingly "front loaded," earning the majority of receipts in the opening two weeks of exhibition, meaning that films need to make an almost instant impact in order to avoid being dropped from screens by exhibitors.
Essentially, if the film does not succeed in the first few weeks of its inception, it will most likely fail in its attempt to gain a sustainable amount of revenue and thus being taken out from movie theaters.