The first movie show in Bombay took place in the Esplanade Maidan, now Azad Maidan, opposite St. Xavier's College, the night after Christmas in 1905. Within two years the Novelty and Empire theatres came up on Hornby Road (now Dadabhai Naoroji Road), and began regular screenings of movies. By 1925 the Royal Opera House was mainly being used for film shows.

The boom in cinema theatres came in the '30s. The Regal, Plaza, Central, New Empire, Broadway, Eros and Metro, were built in this decade, and are architectural landmarks in their own right.

With the increasing popularity of videos throughout the 1980's there was a drop in cinema audiences. The concurrent rise in property prices meant that many owners sold off the land, often a prime location, to developers. In the eight years from 1983 to 1995, 46 out of the 146 cinema halls in Mumbai closed down. Since then a feedback cycle has been in progress- as property prices rise, the price of cinema tickets follow and audiences decrease, forcing entry prices even higher.

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