Lonely Planet Writer

Amazing pictures reveal the splendour of abandoned movie theatres in America

Stunning pictures revealing the once opulent grandeur of the American movie theatre have been unveiled in a new book showing what happens after tickets stopped being sold. The incredible collection shows the regal red and gold embossed detailing of Brooklyn’s King’s Theatre and a chandelier hanging from the ceiling of the State Palace Theatre in Louisiana that shut down in 2007.

King's Theatre, Brooklyn, New York.
King’s Theatre, Brooklyn, New York. Image by Matt Lambros / After the Final Curtain

In contrast, other spectacular images show the peeling ceiling of the Uptown Theatre in Philadelphia and the empty shell of the Variety Theatre, Ohio. The amazing shots have been released in the book, After the Final Curtain: The Fall of the American Movie Theatre by architectural photographer Matt Lambros. The book is published by Jonglez Publishing.

Boyd Theatre, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Boyd Theatre, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Image by Matt Lambros / After the Final Curtain

“My grandmother used to take me into any abandoned barn or house she saw when she was babysitting me as a young child and that stuck with me as I grew up, I used to sneak in to abandoned buildings with my friends when I was in high school,” said Matt. “In college, I started photographing abandoned asylums. After a few years of doing that I was looking for something new and found an abandoned theatre near my apartment. I photographed it and fell in love, eight years later I’ve photographed almost one-hundred abandoned theatres. In my images, people can see a style of architecture that has been lost to history as no one builds theatres like this anymore. The architecture and the history of these spaces fascinates me, I grew up in the eighties and nineties and there really wasn’t anything special about theatres I saw movies at, as most of them were typical multiplexes. I thought that the large ornate theatres were meant for live performances, but that wasn’t always the case.”

Paramount Theatre, New York.
Paramount Theatre, New York. Image by Matt Lambros / After the Final Curtain

After the Final Curtain: The Fall of the American Movie Theatre features 24 movie theatres from across America that opened in the 20th Century but couldn’t compete with the rise of television. Matt says that he hopes that his photographs will save the buildings from demolition. “I’ve been chased out of buildings by squatters, had to scale walls with little to no climbing equipment, and wade through some of the nastiest water just to gain access to photograph these buildings,” added Matt.

“I want people to know that these places still exist and could be saved. I’m an optimist, but I’m also a realist so I know that some of them will be demolished. “If my photographs inspire someone to save one of these buildings, I’ll be happy. After the Final Curtain: The Fall of the American Movie Theatre by Matt Lambros is now available to buy from Amazon for £29.99.