In Portuguese we call "Rooms" the places inside the movie theater where we actually watch the movie. What are they called in English?

I searched, even in movie tickets, but only found "theater", like "theater 1" or "theater 3". Is this correct?

  • 6
    Yes. Theatre/er for the public, screening room for something more private. Commented Apr 9 at 21:08
  • 7
    "Theatre" can be used for both the building and the individual rooms.
    – Barmar
    Commented Apr 9 at 21:52
  • 1
    In the theater world, the "house"is the area separate from the stage, including the seating area. Thus there are "house lights", a "house manager", and other terms that include "house". Formally, the "house" can also encompass the lobby and other rooms that are not the stage or backstage.
    – user8356
    Commented Apr 10 at 16:14
  • 1
    @user8356, as you yourself say, house, in this sense, is used in contrast to stage. What the OP is seeking, however, is the term that would be used for the whole room, comprising both the seating and the stage/screen, in contrast to the building.
    – jsw29
    Commented Apr 10 at 17:26
  • 3
    in French we have the word salle which means a big room which is usually not in a house. This is the word used for classrooms for instance.
    – WoJ
    Commented Apr 11 at 11:02

7 Answers 7


I searched, even in movie tickets, but only found "theater", like "theater 1" or "theater 3". Is this correct?

"Theater" is certainly the most common term in my (American) experience. You can also call it an "auditorium"; and if you're just referring to the number of such rooms, you can use "screen" (for example, a "single-screen theater" is a theater with only one auditorium).

Conversely, the theater as a whole — the building, or the establishment — is usually called a "theater", but can also be called a "theater complex" or "multiplex".

Edit: Please see the comments to this answer — it's clear that different speakers find different options acceptable.

  • 6
    Yes, I think that 'screen' is broadening metonymically in the UK to refer to the auditorium involved. A typical internet example: 'There are 42 seats available in screen 3 at Everyman Gerrards Cross.' Commented Apr 9 at 22:47
  • 5
    For me, "theater", strictly speaking, is the room (seats, stage, screen and surrounding walls). It can also be used to refer to the whole building or complex, but I interpret that as more of a synecdoche rather than the "true" meaning of the term.
    – R.M.
    Commented Apr 10 at 12:20
  • 2
    I don't think you can correctly call it an auditorium, unless it also has a speaking stage.
    – fectin
    Commented Apr 10 at 21:51
  • 1
    Yes in the uk, the word screen refers to the rooms. Commented Apr 11 at 11:37
  • 1
    Nah, the rooms can be Cinema 1 as easily/wrongly as Theater 1 or Theatre 1. Odeon's only going to refer to the whole joint, though. Similarly, it can be an auditorium but it will only be called that by the cleaners who think of themselves as custodial engineers. Even if there were a stage, it wouldn't usually be an auditorium to people going there to watch a film or play instead of a lecture... even if they'd begrudgingly accept that the term can be applied to any room filled by an audience.
    – lly
    Commented Apr 12 at 18:03



1.a. The part of a public building occupied by the audience; Also (U.S.) applied to the entire building.

1881 Every part of the auditorium, the boxes, upper circle, and gallery. Daily News 12 September 2/3

1929 The lights in the auditorium [of the cinema] go up. H. G. Wells, King who was King viii. 248

This is a mildly formal term that will depend on the context in which it is used.

  • 4
    In the US, an auditorium is usually considered to be the building at a school or business where lectures, presentations and performances are done. It usually has a stage, and generally does not have a permanently fixed movie screen.
    – barbecue
    Commented Apr 10 at 12:01
  • 7
    I worked in movie theaters once, and I can confirm that the place where the audience sits is called the "auditorium" in-house. The light switches, for instance, are labeled "auditorium lights".
    – Wastrel
    Commented Apr 10 at 13:52
  • Traditionally a movie theater, like a stage theater, consists of a single auditorium with rows of comfortable padded seats, as well as a foyer area containing a box office for buying tickets. Movie theaters also often have a concession stand for buying snacks and drinks within the theater's lobby. Wikipedia
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 12 at 18:56

In the UK, we would call them "screens" usually. But that's just because that's what the tickets say. But maybe just "the room with the screen" is probably the only direct way of describing it.

More formally, "theater" works, but this sounds a bit off as its usually reserved for non-cinematic theater.

  • 1
    I think in the UK theatre is the more usual spelling.
    – Henry
    Commented Apr 10 at 16:31
  • I would usually use "screening room" rather than "the room with the screen", and disagree with jsw29 on that being only small rooms.
    – Dragonel
    Commented Apr 10 at 19:05

Cinema 3, Hall 3, or even Screen 3.

To refer to the entire multiplex: cinema.

For a stand-alone cinema, its screening room is also called a cinema.

Although it is common, including among Americans, for "theatre/theater" to mean a movie theatre/theater (the context usually makes this clear), I find it useful to reserve this word for live-performance venues.

  • A theater is a place where you can see theatrical / dramatic / performance presentations. That (many of) those performances are pre-recorded on film is immaterial — both types of theater are theater performed in theaters. If we wish to distinguish it it is easy enough to simply say “movie theater” or “live theater”.
    – Dúthomhas
    Commented Apr 10 at 6:32
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    @Dúthomhas: in the US, yes. In the UK, a theatre is only for live performances, as this answer states - though it might be worth clarifying that. Commented Apr 10 at 15:36
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    Yes; 'screen' is broadening metonymically. A typical internet example: 'There are 42 seats available in screen 3 at Everyman Gerrards Cross.' Commented Apr 11 at 22:06
  • 'Metonym' — thanks for that, @EdwinAshworth
    – ryang
    Commented Apr 11 at 22:24

When I worked for Cineplex Odeon we (staff and management) called them screens. The actual term is auditorium but it sounds a bit formal.

e.g. "Can you check screen 2 to see if it's been cleaned yet?"

  • Already given as an answer, Matt. This could be a supporting comment. Commented Apr 11 at 22:07
  • 2
    @EdwinAshworth which answer? I can't see one that gives credence to the term "Screen" alone. I am an English speaker and would not understand "Cinema" or "Hall" in the context of an individual screen in a theatre.
    – Matt K
    Commented Apr 11 at 23:22
  • 'In the UK, we would call them "screens" usually.' apg. Commented Apr 12 at 19:08

There is no word in English that will be, apart from the context, readily understood to unambiguously refer only to a room that contains the screen and the seats for the audience, but excludes the lobby, lavatories, refreshment counters, etc., and separates each such room from other rooms of the same kind that may exist in the same building.

The only way to refer to such a room is to use a term such as cinema or theatre, which are ambiguous between that meaning and standing for the whole building that in addition to such a room, includes the spaces for the auxiliary amenities, and that may contain more than one such room. The ambiguity, however, rarely causes problems, as the context usually provides disambiguation. (A news headline informing the readers that 'seven new cinemas have opened in the city last year' may be an unusual example where the ambiguity would be genuine.)

Cinemas that have more than one such room sometimes distinguish them from each other by numbering the screens in them and then saying something like 'on Screen 3, we will be showing . . .', but that usage is of no help to somebody who wishes to distinguish a room where films are watched from the rooms providing the auxiliary amenities of the cinema. Nobody would say 'I stepped out of the screen to buy some refreshments'.

Auditorium is a term that one may try to use for this purpose, but using it that way is likely to strike as awkward everybody who is even vaguely aware of its etymology, and most people are, because of the widespread use of the term audio (which is typically used in contract to video).

The term screening room avoids all these problems, but is, by convention, used only for such rooms of a relatively small size.

  • 1
    "Auditorium" comes pretty close. Commented Apr 12 at 14:01
  • 2
    Except it doesn't. It suggests that the audience is there to listen to a lecturer, orator, or school assembly instead of to watch a movie. (And, yeah, yeah, technically audience itself has the same origin, but it has transcended that. Auditorium hasn't.)
    – lly
    Commented Apr 12 at 17:56
  • As is often the case with these kinds of questions, the answer depends on context. Are we talking about a term of art used by architects who specialize in construction of cinema buildings? A word used by the employees working in venues to describe them? A word used by some guy you're talking to on the bus?
    – barbecue
    Commented Apr 12 at 18:42

The room in a cinema where movies are shown goes by several names, including screening room, auditorium (although it's also a "visi-ditorium" given the visual aspect of movies, they are called motion PICTURES for a reason), the theatre (though this term applies to both the room and the entire building or unit), the word "house" is also sometimes used for the movie room.

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    – Community Bot
    Commented Apr 12 at 5:53
  • 1
    Auditorium (in Latin) is made up of audit- (the past participle of audiō ‘hear’) and -ōrium , so the equivalent for viewing would use the past participle of videō, which is vīsus – so it wouldn’t be a ‘visiditorium’, but a visorium. Commented Apr 12 at 16:28

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