In this MALL HALL OF FAME feature, we strive to present a quick history of the Shopping Mall Cinema. While it is not possible to include every single relevant detail, the most important aspects will -hopefully- receive 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 shift of American commerce and cinematic entertainment from central city to suburb. Soon after the war ended, several new-fangled shopping centers were built "out of town", with a few of these including a movie theater.
At this time, the Hollywood film industry was entering a period of decline that would continue for a decade or more. The reasons for the slump 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 government anti-trust action, in 1948, mandated the separation of motion picture studios from the various chains of company-operated theaters.
Lastly, the advent of commercial television made it possible to receive video entertainment, for free, in the comfort of one's own home. These events left the grand downtown movie palaces of the early 1900s more or less abandoned.