Projection Booth Ghosts

St Georges TheaterThose that know me are aware of how much I love old theaters and traditional analogue movie projection technology. Going to the movies used to be an event and a movie house was a palace, not the pedestrian experience of sitting behind some idiot who can’t switch his / her cell phone off for even an hour and a half. Often the interiors of these places were themed for their names, and they were called things like The Majestic, The Ziegfield, The Astor, etc. A far cry from the banal names such as AMC 14, AMC 25. Blah. But with time they have been divided up into shops, left to rot or worse – demolished to make way for just another filing cabinet style ‘luxury’ condo tower. Some are still completely intact and used as storage (take a look at Avenue A between East 6th St and East 7th street opposite The Pyramid club. See that HUGE brick building with the convenience store wedged into its side? That’s a fully intact old theatre that RKO used to own. I am keen to get through the locked side door…). Some however get lucky and get bought by someone with foresight and get lovingly restored. Such is the case with the magnificent St George’s Theater in Staten Island, NY now used for live performance and plays. I was on location there for MTV and it’s lobby’s are so overwhelmingly detailed in rococo decor that it feels like a palace. The auditorium (setting over 2,500) is so vast that it boggles the mind how much the restoration cost. My interest was drawn to the tiny window of light all the way at the top (the auditorium is almost 5 stories high), and behind an old forgotten door was the old projection booth – sitting forgotten like a haunted house. The 35mm twin projectors were still there with the last movie shown gathering dust in its reels. The old splicing room was there, the impressive old circuit breaker box, the protectionists bathroom and escape hatch to the roof. And two spectacular old follow spot lights. One can only imagine the film history seen through those projectors, and apparently a dispute between some of the previous owners meant the electrics and mechanics for the projectors were ripped apart . BUT – it’s all still there. Perhaps maybe one day the light will come back on…

St Georges Theater

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