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1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 14 (xiv)

1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition
1950-51 Theatre Catalog
1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 14
Page 14

1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 14

is made to look "theatreit-that is to say, if it is given a real theatre appearance and atmospheree-it will attract people who are in a mood for pleasant relaxation and entertainment.

In the first place, the theatre front should sparkle with brilliantilighting and theatrical elegance. The small theatre, of course, cannot spend as much money on decoration as the large theatre, but it does not have to in order to achieve adequate results. If it is in a small community, it can still flash more titheatre" than any other building in the town. If located in a large city, it should pass up the gilt, marble, and other gingerbread, and concentrate on a decorative scheme which is restrained and yet in good taste.

The marquee should be made to do a selling job. It should be brightly illuminated and designed in good taste, so that it will attract attention to the theatre. The marquee letters should be large enough so that they can be seen at a great distance, and the feature attractions should be described so that they can be easily understood and not garbled with abbreviations in the manner of a classified ad. It helps a great deal if the marquee is decorated with pictures# either of a scene from the feature, or of one or more of the stars.

Displays must really perform their function of displaying. Frames should be kept clean and attractive, and publicity stills arranged so that they can readily be Viewed from the street.

HFriendliness and real#not studied *courtesy should radiate from everyone connected with the theatre . . Good public relations in the form of friendliness should begin at the cashieris window?

It would seem advisable to give the most prominent display space to the current features, for there is nothing more exasperating than to be attracted by a theatre display and then find a small card stating that the picture is scheduled for one or two Weeks .hence.

Coming attractions need a build-up, but they should be subordinated to the pictures which are actually playing and bring people into the theatre.

Ticket booths ought to be a credit to the theatre, for they are in prominent view from the street. They should be located conveniently and possess sufficient facilities to accommodate crowds, so that patrons will not have to wait in long lines for the privilege of turning over their money.


No theatre can hope to be successful if it depends entirely upon off-the-street patronage and word-of-mouth advertising. All of the advertising media possible should be utilized in order to make it just as easy as possible for people to know what is playing.

There is considerable disagreement as to what percentage of the exhibitor


gross should be expended on advertising. Producers claim that the exhibitor is now spending three per cent or less, and that he should be spending about eight per cent. No doubt the percentage varies widely among exhibitors.

Advertising for the theatre, like any other type of advertising, should pay for itself. If an exhibitor is now spending three per cent, he might experiment with stepping it up to five or six per cent for a reasonable time and see what happens. If his boxofiice shows an increase which more than pays for his additional advertising, it will be good business to put even more money into the advertising budget.

You will find that results will be proportioned, however, not by the amount of money you spend, but by the effectiveness of your advertising. Most of our theatre advertising is based upon the producers pressbooks and is, therefore, so stereotyped that it has lost much of its appeal. Not all people are attracted because a picture is tsensational," "daring," or "shocking," or rush to the boxofiice when they see an illustration of a bosomy female who could never possibly get by the censors.

You might find that you will get much better results with a sentence or two describing the chief points and general character of the picture, as is done by the book publishers in advertising their fiction, and by writing yOUr advertisements in simple, natural, down-to-earth language without overworked adjectives.

Theatre advertising should contain as much pertinent information as possible. Printing your schedule will prove a great convenience to your patrons, and may well prove the difference as to whether they will come to the theatre or stay at home on a particular night. Most people may be acquainted with the location of your theatre, but there are some who are not, and consequently you should always give your address. If you have parking facilities-and you should have if it is at all possiblFtell about them in your advertising, and describe where they are located.


There is a great deal more to operating a theatre than just going through the routine motions. If you do no more than the essentials, you might make a living, but your house is never going to be the proverbial gold mine.

There are some exhibitors who are outstanding for their contributions to the life of their communities, but it is an unfortunate fact that most are conspicuous mainly for their disinterest. The theatre is too often regarded as a cold commercial enterprise, and might just as well be situated on another planet as far as its value to the community.

Now, the theatre often possesses the largest seating auditorium to be found in an entire town or neighborhood. The exhibitor or manager should make it a point to contact all of the important organizations in his community and invite them to use the theatre for special gatherings when the time can be arranged conveniently. Such an exhibition of friendliness and community spirit may occasion some extra effort and even a little expense, but in the end it is going to pay rich returns.

There are a great many people who could and should be patrons of your theatre, and yet have never been inside it. You may not believe it, but there are some people who are timid about going to theatres. There are others who simply have formed the habit of going to some

other house. Once you can get men and women to

step inside your theatre, even if it is for some other purpose, you will have an opportunity to show them what comfortable surroundings you have to offer and what a friendly person you are; before long you will have them coming frequently to an entertainment center Where they believe they can feel at home.

Children may be small, but donlt overlook them, because they will play a great part in your success. Encourage them to come to your theatre, rather than regard them as necessary evils. Children are great word-of-mouth advertisers. If a kid likes a picture, he will talk the ear off of everyone he meets telling them about it. If you are cross or severe with him, he will blacklist you not only with his family, but all over the neighborhood.

Public Relations

Theatre operation requires constant contact with the public. Anyone who doesnt like people should get out of theatre business.

Dealing with the public brings us to the third part of our problemethat of building up a steady and lucrative patronage by increasing comfort and entertainment. The business of making a steady patron out of the person who comes into your theatre begins the moment he walks up to the ticket window.

Friendliness and real#not studied* courtesy should radiate from every one connected with the theatre. It should begin with the exhibitor or the manager. His place is in the lobby during the hours when attendance is heavy. If you fail to do so, you are neglecting a very important part of your duties.

Study the face of every person who comes in or goes out of your theatre. If you know him, never fail to extend him a greeting and a few words of conversation when time permits. If his face is familiar because he has been in your theatre several times before, it is your place to step forth and be the one to

'speak first. He will feel flattered that

you are able to recognize him among so many people, and he will continue to come to a theatre where he feels that he is a friend of the boss.

It is your employees, however, who can really make or break you, Remember that you are held responsible for every action of every employee who comes into contact with the public. If a patron receives an impertinent remark or a discourteous action from the cashier, doorman, or usher, he is going to blame it on your theatre, and you are the one who is going to suffer.

Good public relations in the form of friendliness should begin at the cashierls window. She should be pleasant at all times, and not become exasperated with every person who is slow in action or understanding. If you have a neurotic who gets rattled and insolent under the pressure of crowds, get rid of her before she drives away too many of your


1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 14