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1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 3 (iii)

1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition
1952 Theatre Catalog
1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 3
Page 3

1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 3

'Elll'llllillh F0lillW01 Faced with unprecedented operating expenses, containing competition from home television. greater inroads on the publicis boxoflice, dollar by taxes and high living costs, government-impOsed restrictions on new construction andvntajor remodeling, the theatre industry had more than its share of problems as this 10th annual edition of THEATRE CATALOG went to press.

Many of its problems were attributable to an apparently unsympathetic government. The greatest threat ever encountered by the industry loomed as the U. S. Department of Justice filed an anti-trust suit against some major film distributors, seeking to compel them to make available to television 16mm. prints of new feature product. If successfully prosecuted, the highly unfair and political suit would surely put most theatres out of business by offering their only stock in trade without cost to home television audiences. The federal '20 per cent tax on admissions remained as a deterrent to movie-going, and while. exhibitors mobilized to fight for its elimination, no relief was in sight. Rigid National Production Authority regulations virtually called a halt to new theatre construction and major structural alterations during most of the. past two years. The regulations later were eased, and were to have been relaxed sufliciently by October to permit construction to progreSs almost normally, but new shortages brought about by the steel strike, forced an indefinite postponement in the relaxation of the ban, and theatremen once again had to set aside their plans for expansion or improvement.

Meanwhile, many of the industryis other serious problems were being surmounted, in many cases with spectacular success. Hollywood was meeting the competition of home television with huge, lavish Technicolor productions on the scale of iiQuo Vadis,li f"David and Bathsheba;7 iilvanhoef and giAn American in Parisll; more iiquality" product on the level of iiPlace in the Sun? iiStreetcar Named Desire], 4iDeath of a Salesman," and more iiiass-appeal comedies like iASailor Beware? tiJumping Jacks," and *Son of Paleface? They were giving the public what it wants and what it can get no place. but in the motion picture theatre. Record-breaking grosses rolled up by these films, and many others, testified to the fact that the movies were making a strong comeback from the dismal years of 1949 and 1950.

But the generally below-par business of the past few years has not been without its beneficial effects on theatres'also. For as, boxof'lice receipts began to ebb from the high. water mark of the lush war years, theatremen became acutely aware of the need for positive action to restore. a measure of the prosperity they once enjoyed, and the wiser among them immediately set to work making their theatres more attractive and more comfortable, and adding new patron services.

Patron satisfaction became the. heavily emphasized theme of new theatre construction. Cone was the rococo ornamentation designed to awe the. patron; in its place were construction and equipment features centered about comfort, safety, and the perfect presentation of the screen program. Slipping boxoflice receipts have been directly responsible for the speeding up of the evolutionary process in the field of the physical theatre, but while sub-standard business is a temporary condition, the improvements it has prompted are lasting.

Limited operating budgets were responsible, in part, for lowered seating capacities in new theatres, and reduced capacity meant greater comfort. Increasingly conscious of the parking problem, many new theatres were providing large parking areas, In the face of strong competition from home television, theatres were countering with large-screen TV and commodious lounges where patrons could enjoy this added entertainment along with the regular film program in incomparable comfort.

Largely responsible for bringing about such improvements, the. slump in business during the past few years has been a kind of blessing in disguise, for it has dispelled the pmsperity-borne complacency which is the real threat to progress, and has awakened exhibitors to their responsibilities as showmen. It also removed from the, national scene many outmoded and obsolete competing theatres, that but for World War II prosperity would have closed previously. While the. recent years have not been good ones, boxollicewise, they represent the period of greatest progress in theatre design, qualitatively speaking, As business continues to improve. this progrns will be. the most vital factor in solidly consolidating the motion picture theatrc's position as the, dominant medium of cntcrtainment.

in reviewing the accomplishmcnts of the industry and attempting to furnisl some possible answers to its problems, this l0th annual edition of THEATRE CATALOG takes its place beside the nine previous volumes which in the, past decade have established this publication as the international authority on all matters pertaining to the motion picture theatre.
1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 3