Futurist Cinema in Liverpool (Again)

A few years ago I posted briefly about the Futurist cinema in Liverpool. The Futurist was the first purpose-built cinema in the city, and opened in 1912, when Hollywood was still little more than a ranch, and a collection of houses; it closed in 1989. Since then, despite being a Liverpool landmark, it has been left to rot on Lime Street. There are trees growing out of what is left of the roof, and the interior is ruined.

People remember this building as the Futurist, the name it carried from 1920. It is a forward-looking name, full of optimism, but tempered with an exciting hint of dystopian fear. The word “futurist” could come straight out of Fritz Lang’s 1927 film Metropolis. The Futurist went on to be one of the most advanced cinemas in Liverpool. It was the first in the city to offer sound, in 1926, and the first to offer cinemascope, in 1954. Later still, in 1975, it had “sensurround”, for the showing of Earthquake. Now, however, in what looks like terminal decline, it has returned to its earlier, more innocent name: Picture House. A name from a time when moving pictures seemed like magic, and when cinemas like this one brought not just entertainment, but vivid news of the outside world. It is hard to imagine how people felt about this place when it was new.

The picture below, taken a few years ago, shows the cinema with its 1950s neon sign in place. This was recently replaced with a modern, printed sign, since removed. The Futurist‘s imminent collapse is a scandal.


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