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1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 11 (xi)

1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition
1950-51 Theatre Catalog
1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 11
Page 11

1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 11

WHAiiS Wlillill}...

With llur iheatres?

Whats wrong with the motion picture theatre business?

Plenty-if you listen to the tales of some of our exhibitors. Boxofiice has fallen off as much as fifty per cent-or even more. People have turned their backs upon the movies forever. Television has sounded the death knell of the motion picture industry.

Much of this wailing and groaning must be taken with more than the proverbial grain of salt. The recent Minnesota federal tax report is a case in point. Although most exhibitors in that state have been reporting that grosses in 1950 were below those for 1949, federal admission tax returns for November, 1950, showed an increase of more than onethird over the same month of the previous year. Maybe they do it with mirrors, or thereis some logical explanation of the whole thing, but thatls the way the figures read.

Another puzzling circumstance is that most localities outside the television areas make the same claims of decreased attendance and quote much the same percentages as do those in neighborhoods where television sets are in most homes. If this is really the case, and if some of our exhibitors are not exaggerating just a little bit, it would be a strong indication that television is not nearly as black a villain as it has been painted, and that we must make a serious search elsewhere for other causes.

As in most of the affairs of life, the truth will probably be found somewhere in between. The theatre business is not figoing to the dogs," and any exhibitor who really believes that motion pictures are doomed should get out of an industry in which he has so little faith. Furthermore, if any theatre is really showing as huge a drop in attendance as some of them report, you may be certain that the answer does not lie in a general depression cycle in the motion picture industry or because of the competition of television, but rather in unskilled and shortsighted management.

Yet most of the complaints have a legitimate basis in fact. There has un l950-51 THEATRE CATALOG


doubtedly been a decline in boxoffice figures. It has not been felt to any appreciable degree in some theatres and in some localities, but in others it has

reached truly alarming proportions. Like the Communist menace, it is here, and it would be disastrous for us to try to ignore it.

Another factor has entered the situation with the ban on new theatre construction ordered by the National Production Authority. This is not as bad,

however, as it may seem at first glance. For one thing, any exhibitor who had

serious intentions regarding new construction or modernization accumulated a surplus for that purpose during the lush war years, and has already com TWhat we need today are good pictures produced to appeal to a wider range of population . . . better advertising, promotion, and programming of attractions, . . . clean, comfortable surroundings in an atmosphere of courtesy, . . . modern booth equipment so that pictures can be presented properly and to best advantage?

pleted the work or advanced it to such a stage that it is not affected by the ban.

There is also an allowance up to $5,000 for alterations of buildings, such as repair and modernization work, and while this is not as large as it might be, you can still take care of most of the essentials with five thousand dollars. Most important of all, as yet there is no restriction on theatre equipment and supplies, such as projection and sound equipment, seating, carpets, and the like. So if an exhibitor is sincere about wanting to remedy his own troubles, there is plenty

that he can do without sitting back and blaming it all on the Government.

Problem Facing Exhibitors

The immediate problem facing the theatre owner today may be resolved into three questions:

1. What is causing people to stay away from the theatres?

2. What can be done to bring them inside?

3. How can their comfort and entertainment be so increased that they will become steady patrons?

These are serious questions. Unless they are resolved satisfactorily, the entire future of the industry may be at stake. One thing is certainethe problem is never going to be settled by inaction. The exhibitor will have to do something about it, if he hopes to make a profitable business out of his theatre.

The Picture Product

The answer to the first of the three questions mentioned above-as to what is causing people to stay away from theatres-may be found in the picture product and in television.

There has been considerable improvement in the picture product over the avalanche of trash that was turned out during and immediately after the war, but there still is plenty of room for more improvement. The high quality of films being made by British, French, and Italian producers working with far smaller budgets presents a challenge which Hollywood should be quicker to recognize and analyze.

Certainly it requires no great intelligence to appreciate that the reason for the success of many of the top foreign pictures is that they were intended to appeal to the mature adult mind. As long as Hollywood continues to labor under the delusion that we are a nation of morons, its product will continue to appeal largely to the moronic fringe of the population.

We have all read numerous surveys showing that only from 10 to 20 per cent of the potential audience attends motion

1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 11