Remembering the Ruins Our Ancestors Once Called ‘Cinemas’

Wednesday February 20, 2019 Written by Toby

Avenida Tanger MoroccoAvenida, Tanger, Morocco

Once upon a time, there were cinemas. They were large enclosed structures where our ancestors would gather to watch giant, primitive TV screens. For some weird reason, our forebears would bring popcorn, an especially crunchy snack, to chomp on in these cinemas. Don’t judge them; it was a different time.

In 2003, photographer Stephan Zaubitzer spotted one of these relics in Burkina Faso. Soon enough, he started seeing them everywhere: in India, Morocco, Egypt, Brazil, Czech Republic, France, England, the United States, and so on and so forth. Since then, he’s travelled to more than 12 different countries to capture these crumbling, sometimes completely abandoned buildings.

Cali GParamount, Oakland, CA, California

The full photo series is surprisingly upsetting. The lavish architectural ambition of some cinemas, like California’s imposing Art Deco Paramount Theatre (above), speak to a hope that’s been somewhat dashed by dwindling seat sales. Even the less glitzy ones, like a cracked concrete slab planted in front of a few benches outside in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, reveal how much people yearned for this once-universal experience, patching it together with whatever was at hand. One cinema that still looks lively is London’s Granada Tooting cinema – but that’s only because it’s since been converted into a bingo hall.

Liberty Mumbai IndiaLiberty, Mumbai, India

Raj Mandir JaipurIndiaRaj Mandir, Jaipur, India

Cali G2Paramount, Oakland, CA, California

Van Buren drive in Riverside CA USAVan Buren drive-in, Riverside, California, USA