Film posters are still painted by hand on the front of Filmtheater Sendlinger Tor, a 100 year-old movie theater just outside Sendlinger Tor, the southern gates of the Altstadt (historical city center).
The theater opened in October 1913 with a showing of the Italian silent film Marcantonio e Cleopatra (Cleopatra, die Herrin des Nils; Antony and Cleopatra), and has received over 25 million visitors. It is Munich’s largest single-screen theater, and has been owned by the Preßmar family for nearly 70 years, although the expiration of the family’s lease makes its future beyond 2015 uncertain.
For the past 25 years the posters at the theater have been painted by one René Birkner, and are often completed in less than a night. Birkner is one of the few remaining film poster painters in all of Germany. The three-meter high posters often differ from those produced by the film production companies, giving the historic cinema a uniquely old world feel. The original posters are also striking given their size.
As movie theaters move towards homogenously garish megaplexes covered in design-heavy marketing tools, the Filmtheater Sendlinger Tor still provides the feel of artistry and grandeur that was once a hallmark of public cinema.