When the Lights Go Out

~Experiencing the Abandoned Showcase Cinema~

By: Sean and Amanda

Movie theaters, we’ve all seen them. We’ve all driven to the crowded theater on a Friday night. We’ve all stood in line for overpriced popcorn. We’ve all felt the anticipation of the next big flick when the lights of the theater go out. But few of us have seen what becomes of these places when we’ve gone. There are no more crowds. There are no more lines. And the flick never comes on. There is only darkness. We have explored many different types of abandoned places, but few have been as haunting and as mesmerizing as an abandoned movie theater. Unlike the many abandoned hospitals and businesses we’ve explored, movie theaters were once a place of joy. They are not victims of dark pasts or controversy. They are merely sad places that couldn’t keep up with the ever changing movie market, and for that they were left behind. Forgotten. We were able to visit one such place.

Based in New England, the Showcase Cinemas franchise is owned by the larger parent company of National Amusements which owns thousands of movie theaters all over the world. The Showcase Cinemas branch is mostly exclusive to the New England area, with a few theaters in the United Kingdom and other countries. Currently, there are about thirty Showcase Cinema theaters in the US, including those in New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Around the time of 2008, theaters began to close across the state of Connecticut. Due to reasons such as close proximity to other theaters, higher ticket prices, and the continuing development of movie technology, these theaters were deemed no longer “financially viable.” About half dozen Showcase Cinema theaters in Connecticut were closed over the next few years. They now sit empty.

Having seen several of these abandoned theaters in our travels, we decided to pay a visit to the nearest one. Since they were once active, finding these abandoned theaters is not too difficult. A Google search and MapQuest were all we needed to find all of the information we needed for our investigation. Interestingly enough, these theaters are not commonly explored by other urban explorers. So we did not have much of any information on what we could expect to find at the theater. We were flying in blind. We did not know what kind of security was in place, what kind of shape the building was in, or what the legal status was of being there. It certainly promised to be one of our more unique investigations to date.

We made a trek to the abandoned Showcase Cinema theater on a beautiful October afternoon. It wasn’t too much of a drive, and the theater stood right beside the highway. Facing this highway stood the old marquee, though now all it says is “CLOSED.” It was indeed a haunting site, especially with the golden afternoon sunlight baring against the theater’s decaying walls. The theater unfortunately shared a parking lot with a grocery store, so we were forced to be discrete in our investigation. We chose to scout out the property in our car first. No security forces were spotted, though several security cameras were in operation along the building’s main entrance. Other than on the building itself, there were not any “No Trespassing” signs visible on the property. The lot appeared to be taken care of though, as there were no signs of litter or graffiti anywhere.

When we first drove in, we got an excellent view of the theater. The “Showcase Cinemas” sign still greets visitors, though now it is slowly graying. The parking lot is in poor shape. Nature has begun to reclaim it, as much of the pavement is cracked by furiously growing weeds and vines. The lines for parking spots are slowly fading away. We even found an old stop sign still standing. The building itself is in relatively good shape for an abandoned site. Plants and vines grow heavily along the steps and handicapped ramps of the theater. The red paint of the handrails is slowly chipping away. Big grey splotches of mold coat the cement walls and steps. Even the old front sign is in poor shape. What once welcomed theater goers and listed show times is now a brown illegible marker.

The windows of the front main entrance are completely sealed from the floor to the ceiling, making the theater a near impenetrable fortress. There are also two security cameras guarding this entrance, protecting it from any potential vandals. Though the front entrance is completely sealed off and well-guarded, there are several other entrances to the theater in the form of back and side doors. These were once used as the emergency exits from each individual theater. Inside, the building is completely dark. With the front windows sealed off, not a shred of light makes it inside. Everything from the front ticket windows to the concession stand is cast in complete darkness. While there is no graffiti or liter on the outside of the building, it is prevalent inside. Glass display cases are smashed. There are holes in the walls. Carpets have been shredded. Even a few of the movie screens have been ripped up. Each theater is as quiet and somber as a tomb.

Several of the abandoned theaters in Connecticut have been demolished and their lots are being used for new and better purposes. But a good majority of these abandoned theaters still stand, scattered across the state. Much like most abandoned places, there are always talks of what to do with these sad places. But few things ever come to fruition. Though certainly not haunted, visiting this theater was haunting. Every little emotion that audiences once felt still echoes through the empty halls. Whether it was the laughs of a comedy, the tears of a drama, or the cries of a horror movie, these feelings still haunt each theater. Hundreds of empty seats sit staring at an empty and destroyed screen. But sadly, the lights went out in this theater a long time ago. The Showcase Cinema sits quietly in the dark, still waiting for the next movie to start.

**Please feel free to like, share, comment, reblog, and share your own experiences!!**

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