In this MALL HALL OF FAME feature, we strive to present a quick history of the Shopping Mall Movie House. While it is not possible to include every single relevant detail, the most important aspects will -hopefully- receive perfunctory mention.
Our story, which primarily unfolds during the Post-World War II years, had its beginnings in the silent film era of the 1920s. At this time, America's emerging car culture was spawning the first auto-oriented, suburban-style shopping centers. It was inevitable that the paths of the movie house and prototype shopping center would meet at some point.
The Great Depression and a global conflict delayed the progress of the inevitable merger of shopping center and silver screen. However, soon after the war ended, new merchandising hubs were being built. Unfortunately, by 1946, the Hollywood film industry was entering a period of decline that would continue for a decade or more.
The reasons for the slump in the film industry were many. First off, many soldiers returning from the war were using GI Bill funding to further their education. Cracking the books left little time for leisure activities such as going to a movie. Secondly, a Federal government anti-trust action, in 1948, mandated the separation of motion picture studios from the various chains of company-operated theaters.
A shift in the US population, from inner city out to suburb, was also underway during the 1940s and '50s. This left the grand downtown movie palaces of the early 1900s practically abandoned. Lastly, the advent of commercial television made it possible to receive video entertainment, for free, in the comfort of one's own home.