Legal requirements, as well as site limitations, often radically affect the plan of a photoplay-house. Several states prohibit balconies in motion picture theatres. In such states, of course, the auditorium must be confined to one floor. There are other cases where it is less expensive to plan the audience hall on the floor, if sufficient space can be secured.

Lobby Underneath The Seats

Where the depth of the premises is not enough or where economy of space is desired, ground-floor picture houses may be planned with the rear section of seats sweeping high, like modified circus seats. Then a low ceilinged lobby and even shops, if necessary, may be installed beneath the rear section of seats, as suggested in the plan displayed at the close of this chapter. Reference to the illustration will show that the entrance should be through ramped tunnels to the middle of the auditorium with access to the rear rows up stepped aisles placed alongside each tunnel. In an auditorium thus planned the height of the ceiling at the rear might be gradually increased to good acoustical advantage.

If singing or talking acts be desired as part of the program, considerable thought should be given to acoustics when designing long narrow houses, as sound propagation is usually imperfect in this form of building. Heavily curved ceilings, deep recesses and domes should also be carefully avoided.


Additional comfort may be afforded by an efficient heating and ventilating system. Clean fresh air, introduced in proper quantities at the right temperature, is always appreciated by the public, either in winter or in summer, and this fresh air. should penetrate the breathing zone instead of going direct to the floor and chilling the feet of the spectators. Other things being equal, the house affording the best ventilation and most comfort will have the largest audiences.

The Airdome

The Airdome is a summer form of motion picture theatre. Where there is sufficient width the side spaces of an airdome should be embellished with attractive flower beds, arranged in banks with white gravel paths winding about them. If possible the grounds should be inclosed within a green latticed fence or wall, decorated with quick growing vines, and topped with a string of small, vari-colored electric lights;

Daylight Entertainments

Where the depth of the lot is enough to permit an extension of at least fifty feet behind the screen, rear projection should always be employed, with the projection rays boxed in by a black-lined inclosure extending from the machine booth to the rear of the screen. This inclosure arrangement will produce an intensified light on the picture and allow good presentation in glaring daylight, if the screen frame be formed like a shallow shadow box as well. Airdome matinees for ladies and children at half-price would be a novel and attractive feature that would substantially add to the revenue.


Slat-seated benches should be used so as to shed rain water freely, and they should be aligned in straight rows with a twenty-two inch space allowed for each seat. The necessary number of circular, woven-straw seat cushions commonly used for such purposes should be freely distributed among the audience.

In the exterior architecture of the airdome a touch of the bizarre and fantastic is by no means out of place. A design of the conventionalized Egyptian, Byzantine or Chinese styles would, of course, be preferable to a mistaken attempt at originality leading only to triviality or vulgarity.