For more than a century, Dundonians have had a love affair with the silver screen.
From early classics at the Tivoli to modern day blockbusters at Cineworld, cinema has always been a popular source of escape for generations of city residents.
While there aren’t as many big screens in the city compared with years gone-by, Dundee may soon see a cinematic revival.
Talks have been ongoing about bringing a nine-screen theatre to the Greenmarket. Meanwhile, plans are also afoot to open a new cinema at the Wellgate.
At the peak of film-going in the city there were 25 cinemas in operation — compared with today’s three — which meant that Dundee had more cinemas per head and cinema seats per head than any other city in the UK.
Picture shows were very popular in Dundee from the mid-19th Century onwards but these came in the form of magic lantern shows.
Magic lanterns were early projectors which used a series of lenses and static and moving mechanical slides to project images on to walls and screens.
In August 1896, the first showing of moving pictures took place at the now demolished People’s Palace, which stood roughly where the Queen’s Hotel car park is now.
In October of the same year, Peter Feathers put on a show of moving pictures in the Royal British Hotel at the top of Castle Street.
Dundonians could not get enough of moving pictures and films began to be shown in a wide variety of spaces, ranging from the Gilfillan Hall in Whitehall Crescent to canvas-covered wooden structures known as penny gaffs.
Although film had been very popular for more than a decade, it had left virtually no permanent mark on the built environment — but that was all about to change.
To satisfy demand, properly constructed premises were required. In 1910 the New Cinema opened in Morgan Street, Edward’s Picture Palace — later the Tivoli — in Bonnybank Road, the Electric Theatre in Nethergate and Edenbank on Watson Street — and many more were to follow.
In March 1929, talking pictures first appeared in Dundee, triggering another boom in cinema construction.
A a result of soaring attendances in the 1930s, new cinemas began to appear that were on an altogether bigger scale and more luxurious than had been seen up to this time.
These were known as super cinemas and the best example in Dundee was Green’s Playhouse in the Nethergate — now Mecca Bingo — which was the third biggest in Europe.
The Playhouse was Dundee’s only super cinema and has been described as “easily Scotland’s most spectacular cinema of the 1930s”.
By 1939, there were 25 cinemas operating in the city.
Although cinema audiences continued to grow during the Second World War and the immediate post-war period, that was the greatest number of cinemas in operation at any one time.
But with the advent of the TV, cinema attendances fell away and bingo evenings gradually replaced film in the 1960s.
Over the ’50s and ’60s, several cinemas closed their doors — 20 had gone within 20 years.
In 1979, the council opened the Steps cinema as part of the new Central Library.
A 2,500-seat cinema was also built at the Stack Leisure Park.
Three new cinema developments took place around the turn of the century.
In 1999, the Dundee Contemporary Arts complex opened, as did the UGC at Camperdown Leisure Park — later sold to Cineworld.
Two years later, a 2,500-seat 10-screen cinema opened in Douglas.