a large building that contains several cinema screens
Origin and usage
The word multiplex was originally a mathematical term, from the Latin word ‘multiplex’ meaning ‘having a great number of parts’. It dates back to the 1550s, but it wasn’t until the 1970s and 1980s that it became a common term to describe a movie theatre with many screens housed in a single building.
Multiplex commonly refers to a cinema that houses several different screening rooms under a single roof. Today multiplexes are quite common, but that hasn’t always been the case.
In 1963, what many historians consider the first multiplex opened in the American state of Missouri. Stanley H. Durwood, a local theatre owner, discovered that he could boost slumping ticket sales and increase profits by housing two screens showing two different movies in a single building. He opened his multi-screen movie house, called The Parkway Twin, in July 1963.
After the success of his first multi-screen theatre, Durwood continued to expand his business. Eventually, he opened a theatre with four separate screens in 1966 and a six-screen multiplex in 1969.
As technology continued to improve over the next few decades, it became commonplace for multiplex theatres to have as many as 24 screens showing two dozen different films. Now, multiplex theatres can be found all over the world.
“Each multiplex has screens allocated to each studio. The screens need filling. Studios have to create product to fill their screen, and the amount of good product is limited.”
“It was the money from Star Wars and Jaws that allowed the theatres to build their multiplexes, which allowed an opening up of screens.”