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1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 152 (118)

1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition
1952 Theatre Catalog
1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 152
Page 152

1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 152

Prestige Pays Off

The prestige that a picture will have attained by virtue of a long run at a theatre which is known for its policy of playing only the best films will be of immeasurable value to other exhibitors who book that attraction into their subsequent run theatres. The prolonged advertising campaign during the run house engagement cannot fail to achieve wide penetration in the area. By the time the picture plays the sub runs, the patronage of those theatres will have been made fully aware that the show is something special that they can't afford to miss. The effect of a run house attraction moving into the sub run houses would probably be much the same as a road show being shown at popular prices, even though there may not be much of a diEerence in admission prices at the two situations. The aura of roadshow prestige would be there, nonetheless. Of course, long engagements at a run house would hold up sub runs for a longer than normal period, but the enhanced value of the film when it finally reaches the second and third run theatres would more than compensate for the delay.

Distributors Would Gain

Distributors also would benefit considerably by run house engagements of their product. Most large houses operating on a conventional first run policy cannot afford to pay over a long period the high rental percentage that a top quality attraction commands. Overhead costs and the principle of diminishing returns soon gobble up the profits. But a run house, with its considerably smaller seating capacity, small staff, lower property rent, and consequently, its lower total overhead costs, can af ford to pay a higher percentage as film rental for an extended first-run engagement. Moreover, while the distributor is sharing in hefty grosses over a long period, he is also acquiring prestige for his product through the advertising campaign; through the marquee copy, which is seen by thousands of people every day for many weeks, and by the fact that his film is playing at a theatre which caters to discriminating tastes in film entertainment.

Skid Warning

Pictures selected for presentation at run houses must be truly top quality films of exceptional merit or at least impressive enough to warrant a long engagement and to hold up well enough during an extended run to offset the high cost of a pre-opening advertising campaign. One advantage of this type theatre is that here the bottom does not suddenly drop out of grosses without warning, as it can at large conventional first-runs. Rather, boxofiice returns taper off over a period of weeks, thus permitting experiments with advertising, scheduled performances, student tickets, or special publicity to restore grosses until the next show is booked in.

High Admission Scale

The admission scale at theatres using the long first-run policy should be high, or higher, than that of the large first run house. High admissions can be obtained without sacrificing patron good will at run houses, where the policy lends roadshow prestige, while patrons resent price hikes at regular big first run situations. It has been proved repeatedly that the public really does appreciate quality, and is willing to pay

TH'E SUD-SEAT uBUN" THEATRE needs a concentration at patron traffic; but can be fitted into commercial buildings. and pnder building codes. that permit wide latitude. While the Trans-Lax principle of rear proiection permits lower ceiling height, and a higher light level in the auditorium that can reduce operating personnel, there are many other possibilities at the command of the thoughtful planner.

more for it when it is convinced that such quality is actually present. The mere fact that a film has been booked into a run house would indicate to the public that it must be an outstanding attraction.

High Population Concentration

Because quality, rather than instantaneous mass appeal, is the policy, sufficient numbers of especially discriminating movie-goers must be attracted each day, over long periods, to fill the house. It seems obvious, therefore, that the long first run policy could pay off only in large metropolitan shopping and business areas which draw hundreds of thousands of suburbanites and outof-towners daily, or in heavily visited resort cities. It is believed that one such 500-seat theatre could profitably serve each 1,000,000 of concentrated population.


The size of the theatre will largely be determined by local building codes. For example, in Philadelphia, theatres with 500 seats or more must have side exits, no construction over the auditorium, and other provisions which can not always be possible in a business block. At any rate, the run house should never be larger than 500 to 600 seats, or the additional overhead that is generally required with more seats will cut into the profits too greatly.

Although the current overhead of the Philadelphia Trans-Lux and the Washington Trans-Lux has been rather large because operations are conducted on a deluxe Scale, it would be entirely possible to operate such a theatre with two shifts of a house manager, cashier, floor supervisor, and projectionist. With the Trans-Lux design, the interior lighting is bright enough to eliminate the need for aisle ushers, and a turnstile at the boxoffice can be used to replace the doorman.

While many small metropolitan theatres would lend themselves well to a run house policy, the TranseLux type of operation is ideal.

The Trans-Lux Plan

For a typical SOD-seat theatre of the Trans-Lux type, experience has proved that the building site Should have a frontage of 50 feet, a depth of 156 feet, and a ceiling height of 15 feet or more. This size allows for spacing of 39 inches between seat rows so that seated patrons need not rise to permit others to pass. Any location in a transient and cosmopolitan community, with the proper amount of ground space# that is, a minimum of 50 by 120 feet #is suitable.

Trans-Lux makes the theatre a business venture instead of a real estate speculation. It rents its space, in an ordinary store location, at a store rental, thereby relieving the exhibitor of the risk of owning one purposo real estate, and eliminating the burdensome carrying charges of a theatre building. Equipment can be installed on a single floor, with a ceiling height as low as 14 foot. The cost of a specially constructed theatre building is avoided.

1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 152