The Fox Theater in Inglewood, Ca., which opened as movie house in 1949 and served as a main site for Hollywood Premieres during the 1950s with stars such as Marilyn Monroe and the Three Stooges. Closed in 1984. Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre.

Most movie theaters today look the same wherever you are in America; the same mass produced interiors, annoying pre-movie commercials, and paper-thin walls that do little to dampen the noise from the action movie next door.

It's a big change since the early 20th Century, the heyday of the movie theater in the U.S., when movie studios and entertainment companies commissioned famous architects to design grand theater buildings. These theaters were a center of community life -- and, for a long time, one of the few places with air conditioning.

By the 1960s, audiences at these downtown theaters started to dwindle, as families began to buy TVs and relocate to the suburbs, and entertainment companies built movie multiplexes that could show many films at the same time. Some of these theaters went on to live second lives as gyms, churches, retail spaces, and bingo halls, while other sat waiting for demolition or restoration.

Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre, two Paris-born photographers, began capturing these surviving theaters in 2005. They've also photographed the changing urban landscape around Paris, as well as Detroit's post-industrial monuments, which they collected in a 2010 book called "The Ruins of Detroit."

Here is the Paramount Theater in Brooklyn, which was opened in 1928 and hosted artists such as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Liberace and Frank Sinatra. It closed in 1962 and has since been used by Long Island University as a gym (you can click on the photo to enlarge it):


Paramount Theater, Brooklyn, N.Y., 2008. Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre. Photos courtesy the Polka Galerie.

The Paramount Theater in Long Branch, N.J., which was built in 1912, closed in 1959, and subsequently used as storage for a paint company:


The Paramount Theater, Long Branch, N.J. Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre.

The State Theater in West Orange, N.J., later used as an office and garage by the Valley Transportation Bus Company:


Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre

The Alhambra Theater in San Francisco, Ca., which opened in 1926 and is now occupied by Crunch Fitness:


Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre

The Eagle Theater in New York, which opened in 1927, closed in the early 1980s, and was later used as a meat market and discount store:


The Eagle Theater, New York, N.Y. Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre.

The Rivoli Theater in Berkeley, Ca., was built in 1925, closed in the 1950s, and later used as a supermarket:


The Rivoli Theater in Berkeley, Ca. Yves Merchand & Romain Meffre.

The Loew's Palace Theater in Bridgeport, which was once the largest theater in Connecticut with more than 3,500 seats. The theater opened in 1922, switched to adult films in the early 1970s, closed in 1975 and is now waiting for restoration:


Lowe's Palace Theater, Bridgeport, Ct. Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre.

The projector at RKO Keith's Richmond Hill Theater in Queens, N.Y., which opened in 1929 and ultimately was used as a bingo hall and flea market:


RKO Keith's Richmond Hill Theater, Queens, N.Y. Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre.

Letters for the marquee at the Fox Theater in Inglewood, Ca.:


Fox Theater, Inglewood, Ca. Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre.

The Fabian Theater in Paterson, N.J., which was opened in 1925, divided into five screens in the '70s, then ultimately gutted to make way for condos and retail space:


The Fabian Theater in Paterson, N.J. Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre.

The RKO Flushing Theater in Queens, opened in 1928 and closed in 1986:


The RKO Flushing Theater in Queens, N.Y. Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre.

A shot of the exit sign from the Casino theater in Bronx, N.Y.:


The Casino Theater in Bronx, N.Y. Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre.

You can see more photographs from Marchard and Meffre on their website. An exhibition of these photos appears at the Cultuurcentrum Caermersklooster in Gent, Belgium, until January 3, 2016.

See also: 

-These are the craziest and most beautiful flight attendant uniforms of all time

-Stunning photos show what America looked like during the Great Depression

-What really drives you crazy about waiting in line (it actually isn’t the wait at all)