A movie theater or cinema is a location, usually a building, for viewing movies. in particular one for the general public: one can enter after buying a ticket. There are often several rooms, each showing another movie.
There are a variety of movie theatres:
- First-Run Theatre: A theatre that runs primarily mainstream film fare from the major film companies and distributors in their initial release period.
- Second Run or Discount Theatre: A theatre that runs films that have been pulled from the first run theatres and presented at a lower ticket price.
- Repertoire or Art House Theatre: A theatre that presents more alternative and art films as well as second run and classic films.
- IMAX Theatre: A variant theatre which uses an oversized screen and high power projection and typically runs films designed for this format.
Some movie theaters are outdoors and so can only be used when it is dark. A drive-in movie theater is basically a parking lot with a screen at one end and a projection booth at the other. Moviegoers drive into the parking spaces which are usually provided with portable loudspeakers or the vehicle's sound system over which the soundtrack is played, and the movie is viewed through the car windscreen. Drive-in movies were mainly found in the United States, and were especially popular in the 1950s and 1960s, but are now almost extinct.
Some outdoor movie theaters are just cleared areas where the audience sits upon chairs or blankets and watch the movie on a temorary screen, or even the wall of a convenient building.
According to motion picture rating systems, children or teenagers below a certain age may be forbidden access to theaters showing certain movies, or simply subject to parental guidance.
Sometimes couples go to a movie theater for the additional reason that it provides the possibility of some physical intimacy, where the dark provides some privacy (with additional privacy in the back-row). This applies in particular for young people who still live with their parents, and these parents tend to monitor and/or forbid certain activities. Compared with being together in a room without other people, it may also be reassuring for one or both of the couple (and for parents) that the intimacy is necessarily limited.
Arm rests may be a hindrance for intimacy. Some theaters have love seats: seats for two without armrest in the middle.
Movie theaters usually sell various snack foods and drinks which often represents the real income of the business. Some movie theaters forbid eating and drinking inside the viewing room (they are restricted to the lobby), while others encourage it, e.g. by selling large portions of popcorn.