I love cinema theatre buildings. I have always been fascinated with all their nooks and crannies…

The Cinema Complex was a feature length documentary I started developing in 2014.

I abandoned/put the project on the shelf in 2016.

The film would have examined cinema theatre buildings – their architecture, their mechanics, their history and their future – to determine what role they play in our love of film and why going to the pictures can be such an enjoyable experience.

Three Cinema Theatre Buildings

I think the eventual documentary would have featured three cinema theatre buildings…

  • A large format cinema theatre building, such as the BFI IMAX
  • A multiplex cinema theatre building, such as your standard Cineworld or Odeon complex
  • A small scale independent and heritage cinema theatre building, such as The Little Theatre Cinema in Bath or The Everyman in Clifton, Bristol.

The documentary would have presented each building and explored how each compliment and threatens the existence of the others all while presenting the immersive experience case for viewing films in the cinema.

The Inception for the Complex

The idea for the documentary developed from my BA (Hons) theoretical dissertation, Ways of Being: The Spactator and the Spectacle.

Specifically, the idea found its inception in Chapter Two – Hypercinema: The Implications of the Spectacle as a Hyper-Immersive Commodity and what was originally Chapter Three, but for various submittable word count reasons, which I won’t go into here, ended up being Appendix F – The Multiplex is in Trouble: The Aesthetic Downfalls of Low Standards and LieMAXes. 

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Between these two chapters I did a lot of research into the different types of cinema theatre buildings and the different film experiences they can give to the film viewer.

Viewing a mind-blowing experience of being catapulted through a wormhole on a massive IMAX screen, as was the case with Interstellar, is a very different experience to watching Fantastic Mr Fox in a small and intimate and retro setting like The Little Theatre Cinema in Bath.

Furthermore, I found the writing of these two chapters somewhat frustrating because all the time I was describing these different cinema settings with their different architectural mechanics, I kept thinking to myself, “This would be so much easier to convey if I just went and filmed then and cut together an illustrative video essay.”

Plus, I love cinema theatre buildings, I have always been fascinated with all their nooks and crannies.

So the idea of making a documentary about the cinema building was an obvious filmmaking project for me to pursue.

What Pre-Production Work Was Done

I developed the documentary alongside The Miracle of Crowdfunding Mockumentary, my 365 FRAMES 2015 experimental filmmaking project, my Cameo Microfilms and my Breaking Cinema podcast project.

As with The Miracle of Crowdfunding and the Breaking Cinema Podcast, I developed The Cinema Complex with my colleague George Oram, with who I had planned to film it.

The initial development period was concerned with focusing the original idea into a filmable end product; as well as looking at various different cinema building filming candidates.

Throughout 2015 I became a member of Cinema Theatre Association which is an organization that draws attention to all cinema and theatre buildings that have ever existed, from the humblest converted hall to the most modern multiplex.

Membership in the association gives you access to their archive; as well as a number or magazine publications that are delivered to your door and proved invaluable for further immersing me in love and enthusiasm for cinema theatre buildings.

Ultimately, the project just never came together.

But it’s still a good idea that may yet see the light of a cinema projector!