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1947-48 Theatre Catalog, 6th Edition, Page 540 (524)

1947-48 Theatre Catalog, 6th Edition
1947-48 Theatre Catalog
1947-48 Theatre Catalog, 6th Edition, Page 540
Page 540

1947-48 Theatre Catalog, 6th Edition, Page 540

$303,000,000 a Year - in Extra Profits

The 1947 Survey on Theatre Merchandising:

Equipment, Products, and Expected Returns

$303,000,000 a yeareeand all extra, above and beyond the admissions paid! Yes, that astronomical figure 4 albeit small beside the $1,800,000,000 paid in actual admissions-represents the potential cash outlay of the patrons at nearly 18,000 theatres for popcorn, candy, gum, beverages, cigarettes, and other extraprofits items during the year 1947. And that is what it will be, on the assumption that the average 5,200 patrons each week* at each of the nearly 18,000 theatres selling extra-profits items will produce an annual buying clientele of 72,950,000 patrons each of whom will spend approximately 8 cents. And more precisely figured, it comes to $303,467,12424! Yes, $303,000,000 is a tremendous sum, and one which, perchance, is beyond the expectations of the most sanguine booster of extra-profits merchandising in theatres.

For some time, sapient observers of the American mopes have noted the increase in the sales of non-cinematic entertainment in the nations theatres, and they have opined that the gross must be somewhat on the titerrific" side. Yet, thus far, the extent of the business could be expressed only in qualitative terms, for no oneenot even the manufacturers and wholesalers, let alone the theatres themselvesehad facts and figures from which to elaborate a quantitative appraisal.

To obtain the facts of extra-profits life, accordingly, has become essential; but, for reasons which may or may not seem obvious, both theatres and theatre organizations, as well as manufacturers and wholesalers, seemed unwilling to take the logical step.

It, then, became incumbent upon the EXTRA PROFITS section of THE EXHIBITORethe motion-picture trade paper first to appreciate the significance and importance of this businessawithin-abusinesseto embark on a nation-wide fact-finding mission and present those facts and figures as they are, interpreted quite from Without the sphere of influence of the profit motive, either from the standpoint of the theatre or the supplier.

To that end a survey form was prepared, designed to elicit such answers as the summations, percentages, and correlations should properly interpret the true state of affairs. That report is here offered to the service of theatres and the extra-profits industries.


Preparation of questionnaires for surveys is an intricate and difiicult business, for, unless one has made up this type of document, all the difficulties entailed in framing the questionseand the selection of the number and scope of the questions

'All figures and percentages pertaining to the over-all national exhibition situation are taken from the 1947 Film Daily Yrar Book. Figures germane to extra profits are those hereinafter set forth.

to be askedecannot be wholly appreciated. The questions must not be long or complicated, or difficult of easy comprehension; yet the questions must be explicit and so framed as to permit ofeso far as possibleebut a single answer. Also certain "checking questionsii with known answers must be included in order to evaluate properly the average nature of the eventual ffpackage" obtained.

After many futile attempts to develop a formewhich always seemed to go to at least two pagesi-it was decided to adopt a form that should require only a check mark in the proper square or a sole figure on a particular line.

Eight questions were finally selected: two on the background of the reporting theatre, two on the type of operation, two on the displays used, and two on the net results of the business.

In the first place, it was desired to know whether the reporting theatre was first or subsequent run, and the number of shows a day that were run. And then it was desired to have information on whether the theatre was located in a main stem area or in one of more purely residential areas, and the number of seats.

In the merchandising field, it was first asked that the item on sale be indicated, with candy, popcorn, beverages, gum, cigarettes, magazines, star stills, records, song sheets, and ffotherfi being listed for checking in the proper square. Then was asked the type of merchandising, whether by machine or by lobby stand or counter, and if the operation was by the theatre itself or leased as a concession. Whether the attendant received commission or bonus was asked on a yes-or-no basis.

As to the type of display, the theatre was asked to check whether it was an open stand or a closed counter, and whether it was serviced from the front or the rear. In connection with displays, it was deemed advisable, if possible, to obtain a statement of opinion as to the most preferred type of package, whether of cellophane, paper, cardboard, novelty box, or what.

TABLE l-Number and seating capacities of theatres in the United States (Film Daily Year Book, 1947) and population (World Almanac, 1947).

Total Total

Number of Seating Theatres Capacity Population Northeast 4,969 3,952,964 43,307,364 South 4,981 2,338,482 34,335,314


Central 6,199 3,485,713 40,143,332 Mountain .. 984 435,332 4,150,003 Pacific ,. 1,632 1,181,169 9,733,262

U.S.TOT-AL 18,765 11,393,660 131,669,275

As to the price range found most salable, the answerer was ofi'ered space to put the proper percentage figure for items retailing at 5, 10, 20, 25, and 50 cents, and $1 and over. Perhaps the most significant question of all was the last, "What is the number of lobby stand items sold, per 100 admissions?" and "At what average sales price per item?"

To insure cooperation and as a guarantee of good faith, it was pledged that "All replies will be retained in our ofiices and kept in strictest confidence; with only grand totals and percentages used?

While a gratifying number of theatres returned filled-out questionnaires # a percentage suflicient to assure the statistical accuracy of this report-a few returned blank forms and even there was passed on the dubious compliment that ffA personal friend could not find out all about my business, let alone you"! However, the great majority responded with gratifying completeness, and not a few offered facts and figures definitely on the really confidential side.

In the tabulation of the data from the returns, a sectional breakdown was made, for it is well known that, for example, popcorn is only in recent years coming into the northeastern states, while candy has been a stock item there for years. That the present data may be applied against statistical reports of other organizations, it was decided to use the same sectional breakdown employed by the United States Department of Commerceis publication, ffRegional Survey of Market for Confections," by George Dudik (Industrial Series, No. 64, 1946).

This breakdown of states is as follows:

NortheasteMaine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, District of Columbia, Virginia, and West Virginia. W,

South-North Carolina, South Garolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.

North Central 4 Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Wisconsin.

MountaineMontana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico.

Pacific4Washington, Oregon, and California.

In the government report just cited, frequent consolidationiis made of the Mountain and Pacific areas, but in this present work, the five regions have been carried intact throughout. While much of the following discussion of the results may seem to emphasize the over-all national picture, the tabular will be presented sectionally*with a national total, percentage, or average -# so that the

1947-48 Theatre Catalog, 6th Edition, Page 540