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1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 576 (548)

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition
1945 Theatre Catalog
1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 576
Page 576

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 576

I do not believe that there is any doubt that the exhibitor will be quick to realize the advantages of theatre television in the post-war period. Up until a few weeks ago, our normal peace-time habits were disrupted-with some of us working the day shift and some of us the night shift, and the rest of us the graveyard shiftetheatre attendance benefited greatly. But there will come a time when we shall get back to working eight hours a day, or less, and we will undoubtedly do this work during the daytime, and the theatres of America may once again experience some slim matinee days. That is the time they will book events which will keep their average weekly attendance up.

The Theatre Angle

Many times has this question arisen# How will the theatre owner charge for these extra events? Will he just include them in his regular admiSSion price? Will he ask an additional admission price when these events occur? How can he time his show, so as not to interrupt a feature picture? These questions I think are academic A method of timing will be worked out. As for the prices to be charged for these "plus" events, that again is something that will be worked out as we go along. I certainly believe that major sporting events such as I have described could very easily command a premium price and a premium should be paid. The exhibitor can do one of two things: He can, whenever he has television events on the program, increase his regular box-ofiice prices by an amount varying with the importance of the event, or he can maintain his scale of prices and, by means 0f the added television at tractions, play to more people per year, thus producing more new theatre-goers and, thus, increasing his itrate of occupancyii and increasing his earning power per seat per month.

As an example, a hotel can break even with an annual average occupancy of 60 per cent. Additional room sales are just plain itgravyfl The average occupancy of United States hotels during the ttGolden Twenties" was only 70 per cent. In the depression it was less than 50 per cent. Today it is running at a fabulous 96 per cent against 60 per cent in relatively prosperous 1939. It can readily be seen therefore that anything an exhibitor can do to boost his rate of occupancy a few per cent results in considerable more yearly income per seat.


There are still those who believe that home television or theatre television will hurt the motion-picture business. I am not one who shares this view. It is now pretty well established that radio has not hurt the motion-picture business and yet it is a device designed to keep people in their homes. Properly used, radio has helped the picture business. Within the last year motion-picture companies have awakened fully to the tremendous possibilities offered by radio for the exploitation of their product.

Television will bring hundreds of new personalities to the public ey%the same as radio did. Many a picture star has reached the level of stardom via radio broadcasting. For example, in the 19441945 program of RKO Radio Pictures, the following feature or star personalities achieved their popularity via the air waves: Charles Winninger, Fibber Mc STAGE PLAYS AND PRESENTATIONS are also grist to the television mill. When such plays as HOklohomcIH turn away thousands and other thousands visit New York for the muior purpose of seeing the famed Radio City Music Hall stage show, the tremendous possibility of television in widening the patronage of these productions is staggering. Even the opera, televisad from the Metropolitan stage, would add to any theatre's drawing power.




Gee and Molly, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Joan Davis, Dennis Day, Vera Vague, and Luin and Abner. An examination of the product announcement of other motion picture companies will reveal many more names drawn frOm the field of radio broadcasting.

One final observation. I have spoken so far about theatre television in relation to sporting events, news incidents, outdoor happenings, concerts, etc. I now want to talk a little bit about the exhibitoris influence upon home telecasting of all kinds. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility to visualize a nation-wide chain of theatres seeking home television personalities as fast as they are developed, and paying them enough to make it worth their while to perform for theatre audiences rather than for the home audience. For example, one of the highest priced comedy radio shows today represents a weekly program cost of about $25,000. When you add the transmission charges, it becomes a lot of money for any commercial sponsor to pay for a half-hour once a week. If the exhibitors felt that they could get five or ten cents a seat more, or merely increase their attendance without raising their scale of prices by booking that personality to appear for theatres only, for a half-hour once a week, they could offer him considerably more than this $25,000 for a halfhour show and could then emblazon their marquees with the announcement: itJack Benny and Companyii (or whoever the Jack Benny is when this situation becomes possible)-"Not at your hom% but here!" And I really think that it could become possible.

Television must not be thought of as the exclusive instrument of the broadcasting industry, or, as a matter of record, of any other industry. Television is too big, too all-encompassing, too international in scope to be controlled by group interests. Air planes were invented primarily for transportation purposes. But they helped win the war by destroying and killing. Certainly the Wright brothers never thought of that. The original concept of television was that it would enable millions to see from their homes events taking place at far distant points. I am inclined to believe, however, that many have forgotten this so-called tsclosed circuit" use of television I have been delineating.

Perhaps there are some who feel I am engaging in some wild flights of prophecy, but I think, if you reiiect gravely upon the fact that there are 18,000 theatres in this country which have 11,000,000 seats, that do represent an investment of $1,900,000,000, that do take in today $150,000,000 a month at their collective box ofiices, you will realize that the theatre owner of America, the exhibitorea master showman who has progressed in a few years from being the lessee of an empty shoestore, exhibiting crude flickering images, to being the operator of deluxe air-cooled palaces presenting masterpieces of Showmanshipe is not going to let television pass him by or freeze him out. He and he alone has the one thing which has bothered many of those who have studied the economics of television. He has the answer to the question ttWho is going to pay for television?" He has a box office.

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 576