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1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 579 (551)

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition
1945 Theatre Catalog
1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 579
Page 579

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 579


There is one phase of the motion-picture field where television is going to definitely apply. This is in the theatre itself. It is possible, of course, that we may have purely television theatres, as we now have news theatres, but there is reason to doubt that it is a probability. The reason is the dearth of material, unless much of the program is to depend on cultural and educational material, and even soap operas, as sound broadcasting does now. So far no one has been able to sell much of these items and satisfy the paying' audience in a theatre. Fur.thermore the film program at the present news theatre is shown over and over. If theatre television programs should be shown over and over again, we would again find a situation where television is competing with film as a distribution medium to the theatre. Present-day economics are completely against such a possibility for repeated film performance is now decidedly cheaper and will probably continue so for some time to come.

The Theatre's Interest

So far, the content hereof could lead one to wonder why a motion picture company like Paramount is following television closely.

Paramount is the largest owner of theatres in North America, being interested directly, and through aiiiliations, in some 1,600 theatres. Wekeep day to day records of how attendance varies with the production used, the weather, the season, opposition attractions, and many other items. One of the curious phenomena which has appeared in connection with these studies is how certain types of events of national interest have influenced attendance. The study and analysis of these fluctuations in relationship to probability and chance is a fascinating study in human individual and mass psychology. As examples, there are two groups of events which have had very definite infiuence on theatre attendance. The first of these is world championship prize fights. That reaction will, I believe, be quite understandable to all. The other is more esoteric. When President Roosevelt made his original flreside talks, the drop-0E in theatre attendance on the nights of the talks was extraordinary. Gradually, the effect became less and less. We had an automatic index of the Presidents popularity or, perhaps, an index of the gravity of the crisis his public expected him to discuss or, perhaps even, of their belief that he was likely to pull another rabbit out of his hat, as happened so often in the early days of his administration.

The theatre business is largely a fixedcost business, that is the cost of operation of the theatre is within certain limits independent of the theatre attendance. So a large drop in attendance on some periods could turn a profitable week into a losing one. Television might be an instrument which could accentuate such a tendency. In 1937 and 1938, Paramount politely inquired of the leading interests in television what apparatus was available which would enable them to follow the development of television and were emphatically told there was none available for them. Paramount decided to de l945-THEATRE CATALOG

velop its own apparatus.

Since then our study of radio and television has convinced us that the theatre will lend certain values to television which are not possible in the ordinary home assembly.

There has also been some discussion to the eEect that name bands, such as were used at the Paramount Theatre and have now spread in succession to the Strand, Roxy, and Capitol, might be used as television programs synchronized with the programs at other theatres throughout the country. This possibility awaits the establishment of satisfactory and economic transmission facilities throughout the country.

Large Screen Television

Some of you readers may be interested in the characteristics of the various means of producing large screen television. The heretofore fairly successful ones may be described as high intensity fluorescence and supersonic optical mechanical pictures. These, so far, have not exhibited satisfactory picture quality for continued theatre use, largely due to insufficient screen brilliance. Two more which are somewhat tied up with present secrecy restrictions are Scophony's electronic opacity tube, popularly known as the Skiatron or dark trace tube, and RCAis electron electrostatic control of micromeritic suspensions. You will probably learn more about these soon. Mean while, we have satisfactorily, for the moment, solved the problem of the use of intermediate film, which we do not doubt will have anrunusual place in theatre activities.

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There is something more which should be emphasized. That is the fact that every conclusion which has been reached herein has been based on certain unstated technical assumptions. These assumptions can be, summarized into a general one, namely, that new electronic instruments will fall into the patterns in which we now conceive them. But many will change, and as they do, the impact of television upon motion pictures, upon theatres, upon radio broadcasting, upon books, magazines, newspapers, education, our home life, and our political outlook will change.

It is probable that in this article I have encouraged ideas dear to the hearts of some of you, while I may have innocently ridiculed those of others. To the first group, my statements will appear fair and conclusive, to the second they may appear biased and shallow. But if we are to learn we must have the frank thoughts of each other. When the opinions of others hurt, it is well to re membere

. . . that the processes of time. of c eative thought and of logic are pitiless. They respect the convenience of none nor the love of things held sacred, yet they work toward the increasing glory of the world, toward the growth of knowledge, the advancement of understanding. and the enlargement of human life.

HOLLYWOOD'S INTEREST IN TELEVISION, backed by its years of motion-picture production and its present roster of top-rank talent, is symbolized in this picture of Alcm Ludd land Veronica Lake in a boucloir scene from a program aired from Television Production's (Paramount's know-how for presenting the finest visual entertainment,

) W6XYZ. With such talent available, together with the

Hollywood must take the lead in this new field.
1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 579