If you’ve had your appetite whetted by some of the great shows on at the one world theater in Austin, then you may be tempted to learn a little more about the area. What better place to start then with its great legacy of movie history?
It’s funny for a town whose reputation is built around music, but Austin has great historic movie houses too. The history of movies now stretches over a century, and the venues for watching movies have always been a critical part of the experience. Austin’s first movie theater was built in 1913, the Crescent theatre picture house, but the first motion picture exhibition had taken place long before that in 1896 on the 10th October, only mere months after the first premieres worldwide. Due to poor quality, however, there wasn’t much interest in them. In fact, in the old picture houses movies were used to chase guests out the theater, as a sign the live action was over! Early movie houses were rarely more sophisticated then a sheet on the wall and a hand crank projector. However, by 1910 the movie industry was on the rise. In 1921 in Austin, the Queen opened with the first electric light sign in the area as well as the first built in sound wiring. The first true movie palace was the Majestic Theater, built in 1915. It still survives as the Paramount Theater. It used to offer live performances as well, rather like the One World theatre does today.
With the rise of the so called ‘golden age’ of cinema in the 1930s, Austin received the ITC as a result of the new corporatization of movie theatres. It took over the operation of all the extant picture houses. The depression didn’t deter the ITC, and instead new houses flourished in the area- including a few independent theaters. There was even the Harlem Theater, catering to the Austin African American community during segregation when whites and blacks could not share premises.
What could be more American, however, then the drive though? With the rise of cars came this new manifestation of the movie and theatre experience, and Austin gained its first [and Texas’ first] in November of 1940 with the North Austin. Sadly, the rise of the home entertainment system and newer cinema styles made the drive in a short lived phenomenon. The rise of the mall saw the rise of the multiplex entertainment system, and one screen theatres and move houses faced a sharp decline in their profits. Sadly, while Austin boasts over 20 different move theatres alongside a rich and thriving live action venue culture, only the Paramount, State and Ritz movie theatres survive from the heyday of the American movie and Austin’s part in the rise of this cultural phenomenon
From exciting live show venues like the One World Theatre, to its thriving restaurant and music scene, right through to the multiplicity of great cinema venues, Austin provides entertainment for every budget and taste you can imagine.
Keyword: one world theater