multiplex, megaplex, googolplex...

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Sat Jan 1 14:41:08 UTC 2005

* multiplex (cinema), a. (OED3 1982)

[1969 _New York Times_ 20 July F15/2 Mr. Durwood said the multi-theater
complex was catching on, now that the relationship between the retail
center and the theater operator is becoming clear.]

1971 _Lincoln Star_ (Nebraska) 27 Apr. 13/1 Stanley H. Durwood, president
of A.M.C., a wholly owned chain, not a franchise operation, has announced
the opening of 7 multiplex theaters in 13 cities this year, an addition of
more than 20,000 seats.

1971 _Lincoln Star_ (Nebraska) 28 Apr. 4/1 A Kansas City firm, American
Multi-Cinema, Inc., has announced the opening of seven multiplex theaters
in 13 cities, a total of 97 separate cinema operations. ... The multiplex
idea is the building of combination theaters, usually in shopping centers,
where two to four different movies are playing at the same time.

* multiplex, n. (OED3 1982)

1972 _Washington Post_ 21 June B6/3 Marvin Goldman, who runs Washington's
15-theater KB chain and is vice president of the local National
Association of Theater Owners chapter, agrees that shopping centers and
multiplexes are at the crest of the wave of the future.

* multi, n. = multiplex cinema (OED3 1988)

1970 _Barron's National Business and Financial Weekly_ 9 Feb. 18/5
American Multi-Cinema, Inc., has come up with a unique way to cash in on
the compacts: it puts them together as doubles, quadruplets or sextuplets.
The Kansas City-based movie exhibitor claims to be the pioneer in

1972 _Washington Post_ 21 June B6/1 Perhaps the most obvious advantage of
the multi is the fact that if you've got a bomb in one house, you still
have a chance of salvaging the evening with a hit in another.

1972 _Washington Post_ 21 June B6/2 The shopping center location make the
multi's even more inviting.

* (N)-plex (OED2 1974, though not in the cinema sense)

1970 _Barron's National Business and Financial Weekly_ 9 Feb. 18/5
Recently, it has gone to "six-plexes" in Omaha, Dallas and Houston. ...
Next on the horizon for the showman, a 12-plex, or quads stacked on three

1971 _Barron's National Business and Financial Weekly_ 28 June 15
Currently, AMC is operating or building 203 auditoriums in 31 cities,
scattered around 15 states; all are twin, quad or six-plex houses.

* megaplex, n. (not yet in OED)

1988 _Business Journal_ (Portland, OR) 7 Nov. 7 (Proquest)
(heading) Kruse Way site chosen for 10-screen megaplex.

1990 _Independent_ (London) 3 Jan. 22 (Nexis) "We are extremely bullish
about cinema entertainment and are taking the multiplex concept one step
further by building 'megaplexes'," said Mr Jenkins. "These will comprise
up to 16 auditoriums with total seating of 7,000 at one site."

1996 _New York Times_ 4 Aug. H19/2 The megaplex, defined as a theater with
16 or more screens and deluxe accommodations, took hold in the late
1980's; soon Imax and 3-D theaters, video games, cappuccino machines and
virtual reality games popped up in the megaplexes.

* megaplex, a. (not yet in OED)

1991 _Los Angeles Times_ 5 Dec. 25 (Proquest) Westwood Boulevard's strip
of Iranian shops and restaurants, a quarter-mile of signs in curling Farsi
script located south of the skyscrapers and megaplex movie theaters.

1993 _St. Petersburg Times_ (Florida) 24 Apr. 4B (Nexis) So what about
parking for this megaplex theater that would seat 3,500 to 4,500 people?

1995 _Sunday Mail_ (SA) 1 Oct. 24 (Nexis) The biggest will be at Westfield
Marion where a giant 16-screen "megaplex" cinema will seat 5000.

* googolplex (jocular, not yet in OED)

1991 _Re: Read the NYT or Die!_ in _soc.college_ (Usenet newsgroup) 16
Feb., I'd prefer the Century Googolplex, given that I have some remote
of seeing a movie there.

1992 _Re: Colonel Homer_ in (Usenet newsgroup) 27 Mar.,
Anyway, the googolplex joke is pretty old -- where I come from they are
routinely called googolplexes, nanoplexes, gigaplexes, etc. etc.
[Referring to a _Simpsons_ episode in which there is a sign for
"Springfield Googolplex Theatres"]

1993 _Boston Globe_ 13 June (City Weekly) 11 (Nexis) Summer blockbusters
such as "Jurassic Park" and "Last Action Hero" are about to invade your
local googolplex cinema.

1996 _New York Times_ 4 Aug. H19/5 As the megaplex of today becomes the
googolplex of tomorrow (AMC plans to open a 30-screen theater in Ontario,
Calif., next year), are art houses in danger of being pushed out of

1997 _Plain Dealer_ (Cleveland, Ohio) 14 Nov. 4 (Nexis) Opulence and
swooning of this magnitude are rarely seen in today's cramped

(several more cites available on Nexis)

* gigaplex (jocular, not yet in OED)

1992 _Re: Colonel Homer_ in (Usenet newsgroup) 27 Mar.,
Anyway, the googolplex joke is pretty old -- where I come from they are
routinely called googolplexes, nanoplexes, gigaplexes, etc. etc.

1993 _Menace II Jurassic Park_ in _bit.listserv.cinema-l_ (Usenet
newsgroup) 24 June, The following day, my movie craving still not sated, I
nursed the Almobile over to the gigaplex & plunked myself down in front of
Menace II Society.

1995 _Boston Globe_ 23 Oct. 50 (Nexis) We read the book on three-hour
airport layovers, we saw the movie at the local gigaplex and on cable -
but no, we will not watch "The Client" in its criminally boring
Tuesday-night incarnation on CBS.

1995 _Tampa Tribune_ (Florida) 31 Dec. 17 (Nexis) Coming soon to a
gigaplex near you.

(several more cites available on Nexis)

--Ben Zimmer

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