The environment of the cinematic spectacle. The architecture of the early Russian movie theaters

АНИСИМОВ Александр Викторович


The emergence of cinema brought about the issue of forming a comfortable environment for film screenings. This essay analyzes the characteristics of the first spaces used for film exhibition in St. Petersburg and Moscow and the architecture of the movie theaters built in these cities in the first decades of the 20th century and characterized by a combination of theatrical architectural traditions, eclectic restaurant design and elements of the fading Art Nouveau style.

Film exhibition was a profitable business. Initially, screenings were held in rented spaces but soon specialized buildings were designed and constructed. The essay looks at the largest and most popular movie theaters built in St. Petersburg’s main street, Nevsky Prospect, and in the center of Moscow, discussing their architectural features and their historical development. Thus, during the 1920s and 1930s, large movie theaters included a foyer with a stage for variety shows and a theater-like auditorium with a high-mounted, dark-framed screen; the spectators entered the auditorium via the main entrance and, after the screening, exited directly to a street or a yard.

Full Text

With the advent of cinema as a new medium, the problem of forming a new comfortable space for film shows arose. The article surveys the characteristic features of the first buildings designed for film viewing and the architectural difference between film theatres in St. Petersburg and Moscow where elements of theatre architecture, eclecticism of restaurant design mixed with the vanishing Art Nouveau were used.


About the authors

Alexander V. Anisimov

National Research University “Moscow State University of Civil Engineering”

Author for correspondence.

Doctor in Architecture, Professor, Associate member, Russian Academy of Architecture and Construction Sciences.

Russian Federation


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Supplementary files

Supplementary Files
1. Анисимов А.В. Фото автора

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2. Piccadilly Cinema, 1913. Architects N.P. Stepanov, V.V. Schaub. Petersburg

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3. Cinema "Aurora", renamed from "Piccadilly" in 1932. Petersburg

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4. Cinema ‘‘ Moulin Rouge ’’, 1908. Petersburg

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5. Cinema "Crystal Palace", 1910. Petersburg

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6. Cinema "Parisian", 1914. Architect M.C. Lyalevich. Since 1920 - the cinema "October". Petersburg

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7. Concert Hall of the former Cinema "Coliseum", 1907-1913. Architects L.L. Fufaevsky, A.Ya. Romasko. Petersburg

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8. Cinema hall of the Forum cinema, 1914. Architect S.I. Minash. Reconstruction in 1951–1952 of architects E.G. Gruzdeva and I.M. Chayko. Petersburg

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9. Cinema "Splendid Palace", 1917. Architects K.S. Bobrovsky and B.Ya. Botkin, later - the Rodina cinema, and then - the cinema house cinema. Petersburg

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10. Cinema "Artistic", 1909. Architect N.N. Annunciation. Reconstruction in 1913 F.O. Shekhtel. Moscow

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11. Cinema "Volcano", 1912. Moscow

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12. Cinema "Uranus", 1914. Moscow

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13. Cinema "Coliseum", 1914. Architect R.I. Klein. Since 1973, the Sovremennik Theater. Moscow

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14. Cinema "Forum", 1914. Architect F.N. Kolbe. Moscow

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15. Cinema "Pegasus", 1913. Architect A.A. Folbaum, technician V.I. Chebanov. Since 1991 - “The House of Khanzhonkov”

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