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1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 461 (435)

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition
1945 Theatre Catalog
1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 461
Page 461

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 461

Role of Out-Size Displays in Advertising

Big Pictures, Long Runs Require Signwork Especially Designed for Big-Time Selling

If you were to ask Jake Starr, Broadwayis Lamplighter, why the Broadway houses put up such tremendous spectacular signs, he probably would answer "Good pictures deserve them, the others need them."

After spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce a picture, more thousands to promote it, and then failing to decorate the house so that it could continue to carry out the impression which has been created, would be similar to trying to whistle a symphony: the art is there, the work is done, but the completeness is missing.

Those glittering spectaculars are not there merely to bemuse and amaze. They represent practical, hard-headed business sense and down-to-earth reasoning. Signs are the life-blood of motion pictures. They determine, very often, the length of 2. pictures existence in the market, from its opening on Broadway on down the line through general distribution.

One of the greatest reasons for Broadway promotion is to build up a healthy long run to help the distributors. The more people flock to see a picture, the longer it will remain on Broadway. The longer it remains on Broadway, the greater the likelihood of its stay in each of the smaller houses on the Main Streets of big towns, small towns, and hamlets throughout the nation. "Direct from a smashing 10-week run on Broadway" has to be substantiated. If it has been on Broadway that long, it must be good. They must see it; they have been wanting to see it; and it is the job of the Broadway sign to get people to see that picture when it first opens-and to keep them coming.

The film producers have long since taken a leaf (or vice versa) from the copy books of the merchandising men, "Package your merchandise attractively." The theatre, the display, the decor are all part of the package in which the entertainment comes. The sign that will most aptly describe the picture and that will most readily sell it to its potential audience is the point of sale advertising.

If the picture has an unusual story to tell, a strange adventure to relate, a stirring war drama to bring home, an escapist and amusing comedy to present, the sign the promoter buys must relay that. If it is a story on which he has spent millions of dollars and thousands of hours and a picture in which he has used the cream of Hollywood stars, that sign must convey all that. But that sign must tell its story not blatantly or dully, but subtly, attractively and in a manner to stimulate the desire of those who see the sign to see the picture.

Broadway itself has a certain amount of enchantment. The cumulative effect of a million electric-light bulbs, miles of neon tubing, dashing, dimming, dancing,




Secretary. Arlkra/t Strauss Sign Corporation

all go together to make this particular avenue different, more exciting from any other street on the face of the earth. A blank bulletin above a theatre, a reticent marquee, would be like Jonah and the whale.

It would be very strange if a motion picture were to open unheralded in a Broadway house. It would be an outstanding departure from Broadway tradition, but would bring no outstanding results, for, in the glare and blaze of neighborhood signs, its obscurity would prove fatal. The chances are it would neither be seen nor heard of, and disappear as quietly as it appeared, for Broadway signs have become a tradition.

The signs on Broadway are Broadway. Spectaculars, flashing lamps, and neons are expected of Broadway, and Broadway obliges and happily lives up to its tradition. And as Broadway has its colorful array of signs, so each house on Broadway has its characteristic sign-displaysome in blazing combinations of every conceivable device in sign-display.

The Artkraft Strauss Sign Corporation has been in business since 1897, making the spectacular signs which have made Broadway famous. Prior to World War II, the accent of course was on electricks. Each sign would have specially constructed electric letters, sometimes as

much as 20 feet tall. Any and all sorts of materials were available. Therefore, Artkraft Strauss was able to make such displays, as the one for "Captain Courageous? featuring a 45-foot boat which rocked on storm-tossed seas; or the display for uThe Good Earth," which had a 50-foot neon dragon blowing smoke from its nostrils. The tiHow Green Was My Valley" sign, 75 feet by 100 in size, was made entirely of plate glass on which was painted a mural depicting a Welsh mining town, and illuminated from within.


uThe show must go on" and it will go on whether the signs are ready or not. A show opening Without signs is like going to a formal affair without trousers. The time interval between shows is seldom if ever more than a mere 24 hours, which means that a complete reconstruction job must take place between the time when the last picture went out and the new one comes in. It takes close timing and intricate planning. In order to expedite matters, the engineering department designed the mosaic-sign. The pictorial matter which has to go on the bulletin was painted on small, easy-tohandle panels. The sign erectors, when the time for the change comes, would then fasten these panels to the bulletin. In place of rigging for painters, blocking out the old sign, repainting the new panel, all of which should take at least three to four days, the whole job was done in a matter of hours.

MARQUEE SPECIALS ore Frequently used for a greater eye-catching display ihon is possible with the usual changeable-letter signs. In such displays, the motif sel by the picture's producer is carried into the display, with such other embellishments as the sign-maker's art can bring to bear. All pictures used in this article are of the work of the Arrkraft Strauss Sign Corporation and have been reproduced through that company's generous cooperation.
1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 461