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1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 547 (532)

1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition
1948-49 Theatre Catalog
1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 547
Page 547

1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 547

Television-Old Winein a New Bottle

A Practical Theatre Man Discusses the Probable Role of Television in Motion Picture Houses

This article is not intended to be a criticism of television per se nor is it intended to disparage in any way the wonderful strides made in the held of television. It is an expression of the thoughts that have come to me on the matter. The theatre (movies) has been the source of my thread and butteril for these past twenty years and I hope it will continue to be until I decide to take advantage of my social security benefits. If television will affect the source of my income then I want to know when and how much; if it wont, I dont want to add any more gray hairs to those I now have from worrying.

Like most of us who are now connected with the theatre industry I tigobble up" all the articles written about television, its effects on the theatre, how the theatres will use it, the progress made in television for the theatre, etc., etc. Recently while I was reading one of the various articles on television, the thought came to my mind that perhaps we are approaching the television project from a different angle than we would approach any other project affecting theatres.

In the first place all the articles so far have been written with the attitude that television is tthereti and that it is only a matter of time when television will be a part of the theatres; and some articles are written in the vein that television spells the end of movies as they now exist as a source of entertainment. Then comes a listing of the ways in which television will be used. Frankly, Iim not sold. I dont want to be told how theatres CAN use television, I want to be told why theatres MUST use television. When sound pictures became practical it wasnit a case of how to use them, it was a case of having to use them because they were a definite improvement over the silent pictures and the public demanded this improvement in the finished product. The industry recognized sound as an improvement immediately and set out to satisfy the demand. Television must also prove that it is an improvement and it must have the demand. Up to now it has not, to my satisfaction, proven itself in either phase. At the outset there will be a temporary demand because of its novelty, but industries as large as the movies cannot survive on temporary demands.

Ilve looked for the improvements that television might offer. It isnlt in the viewed image. Granted that television images will improve immensely in a very short time, they still will, in my estimation, only approach and will not equal or surpass the standard of the movie projection. Last year at the SMPE Convention in New York City I witnessed the demonstration of large screen television. Compared to what I

By E. S. HUsER

Purchasing Execuliue and luuinlonance Engineer for Fourth Ave. Amusement (.'o.. Louisville. Kenluclsy

Thereis plenty of life in the old theatre yet! In the face of pessimistic predictions based to some extent on samplings of public opinion, film producers and theatre operators maintain a reassuring calm and shrug off threats of annihilation, fatalistic auguries, and all the rest of the crepe in Gloomy Cusi repertoire.

As Jerry Fairbanks pointed out in the 1947-1948 THEATRE CATALOG, the moving pictures offer certain advantages not inherent in video. Among them, crowd psychologyethe gregarious tendencyelooms as a potent factor in keeping the screen lighted. Mr. Huber expresses his belief that television will be relegated to a minor role in the entertainment of the theatre; and gives his reasons for this unorthodox conclusion.

expected it was surprising; compared to the projection I am accustomed to in our theatres it was pretty poor. The definition, contrast, steadiness, and tilifelikeness" were far below what the theatre patron is used to seeing. The sound likewise was below what the patron has a right to expect when he lays his money down for entertainment. . Granted that these are technical problems that can and will be worked out by the television industry, I personally, donlt believe that the projection and sound of television will ever be able to get to a point where they can be considered an improvement on theatre pro jection and sound. Especially I believe.

this is true in regard to sound. Radio sound hasnit been as good as theatre sound and there is no reason to believe that television can surpass radio in the sound end. Television projection is below the standards of theatre projection and probably will remain so. I dont think the public will buy an inferior product on these two phases. From the artistic viewpoint wherein is the evidence or proof that television will be able to offer more in star value, more in scenic artistry, more in direction, more in any of the thousand and one items that are involved in the production of a motion picture than the public is now getting at the movies. The public buys the finished product that they see and hear from the screen. Up to now television can offer them only less than they are

now getting, and the chances are that they will be able to offer them, at best, only a comparable item and not a superior one. Again I say the public will buy an improved product. Television can,t technically offer it to them.

Forget the technical angles! The articles on television projection in theatres have usually been written with the idea in mind that television will become a part of the theatre in one of three ways: 1. A regular program of television composed of various entertainment, such as is now broadcast by radio stations; 2. A constant program that is repeated just the same as the picture in a theatre is repeated; 3. A combination of pictures and television wherein the movies are used until some special event is televised. The switch from movies to television will be made as the occasion suits or demands. Television men and a lot of theatre men seem to take it for granted that one of the above three are inevitable. Maybe they will, but from here I canit see why.

Letis consider these three groups one at a time. First, the regular program of variety entertainment. An element of time enters into this that is a serious drawback. If a patron wants to see a definite item of this program he must be seated in the theatre at a definite time on a certain day or he misses it. If he is late he misses it. Compare this with the movie patron who can come in the theatre at any time and see a complete show whether it be the last day of the program or the first, matinee or night, if late he can stay over and see the part he missed by being late. I dont think the paying patron has too much incentive to buy this type of television in a theatre. Another item that movies can offer is that of subsequent run movies. A missed first-run can be caught later at a neighborhood. Will they have subsequent run television?

For the second group, If the theatre picks up the repeated program in the theatre and the patron will thus be able to stay over and pick up the first reel he missed, I will have to admit that television has overcome objections listed in the first group. But on this type of program what incentive does the theatre have to join the network? Remember the theatre will have competition from every theatre on the netw0rk. Will television projection be cheaper? I doubt it. The cost of the technicians in the telecasting studio plus the cost of the men in the theatre will have to be absorbed by the theatres on the network. The theatre will have to have men at the theatre it looks as if they are taking on the cost of the men in the studio in addition to what they now have. Will the show put on be any better from the


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1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 547