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1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 406 (368)

1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition
1952 Theatre Catalog
1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 406
Page 406

1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 406

Theatre TV As a Boxoffice Attraction

The Future Can Be Bright for Exhibitors Who Use Large-Screen Video As an Adjunct to Film Shows

The amazing technological advances Made in this country since the first World War have been such that the visitor from the year 1910 would be as awed and confused as someone returning from the time of George Washington. Our men of science and industry have turned out such a profusion of remarkable products that things considered in the fantasy-science-fiction class a short time ago, are now accepted as commonplace. The tremendous pace has created in the public something which has been termed tithe cultural lag." This refers to the fact that the scientific accomplishments are greater than the average personls ability to completely comprehend and utilize them to the best advantage. One of the most recent and important examples of this is television.

Moving with a rapidity that makes the head swim, television appeared to be born full grown and quite capable of doing battle with that well established giant, the movie industry. Weaned on a heady formula of dollars, television seemed to skip the infancy stage and shoulder its way to the front as the entertainment and communications medium that had the greatest appeal to the imagination of the public. Despite the restrictions placed on its development by shortages of materials due to the defense effort, the lack of trained personnel and restrictions on the numbers of channels and stations permitted, TV forged right ahead. As theatre audiences started to melt, the film industry realized that here was a form of competition that could not be ignored. Yet, for quite a while this is exactly what happened.

Having been in on the ground fioor, the radio industry poured money into home television at such a rate that the total investment today is well over a billion dollars. This money was spent in getting the top names from the show business world, and establishing and evolving new programs and methods of luring sponsors and audiences. The theatre industry, with an investment of almost three times the size of TV, has been until recently lethargic in organizing a positive and aggressive counterattack. Of late there has been a tendency to stop moaning while doing nothing about it, and a growing awareness that one of the solutions to home television is theatre TV.

Theatre TV Holds the Answers

In these soecalled sophisticated times, mention of the old fashioned virtues of facing a challenge squarer with initiative and imagination is often met with wan smiles and terms such as "corny." If it has become "corny" to fight for something you believe in then "corn"

should become a regular part of the diet. The fllm industry is an important and integral part of the American scene, and it is flexible enough to face the threat of television, if those in the industry have the faith and willingness to fight. Not a miracle cure for all problems, theatre TV does hold a number of the answers.

Bulk vs. Quality

One thing that appears to be on the way out is the double bill. Having grown

BRIEF: Television seemed to make its appearance as a full-fledged mass enter! tainment medium almost overnight . . . and nurtured by the investment of huge sums of money, it grew rapidly to become a threat to the theatre boxoffice. The obvious answer to the threat is theatre television . . . Special programs which can not be seen on home receivers . . . in combination with strong feature film attractions . . . would be an unbeatable lure. With the high cost of producing a TV show for home reception certain to adversely affect the quality of programs . . . and with home viewing decreasing as the novelty of TV wears thin . . . the time for the expansion of theatre TV is now. Equipment of proved merit is available . . . and for exhibitors who make use of it . . . the future seems to hold much promise.

With 75 theatres in 37 cities now equipped for the presentation. of largescreen television programs . . . and with that figure certain to increase greatly in the months to come . . . it appears that theatre television will not only be a means of attracting additional boxoffice revenue . . . but might well be a key to the very survival of the industry. While not a panacea for all boxopice ills, theatre TV can be a powerful stimulant.

accustomed to seeing 0B0 productions at no cost on their home sets, the public has lost its taste for bulk entertainment and is looking for quality. It is now an accepted fact that only a grade "A" iilm will lure customers to the b'iyoflice in large numbers. Here is an ideal situation for theatre television. A strong feature plus a TV attraction that can not be seen at home makes a combination that will be hard to beat, for it combines the best of both media. Despite the advances made in the design of home TV receivers, the quality of the picture and its size still can not match that of the theatre screen. Another feuture that no home set can hope to simulate is the feeling of being part of an audience. Almost everyone has had the experience of viewing some sort of entertainment alone, or with a few persons, and finding it rather flat. However, when the same thing is seen with

a large group it suddenly becomes sparkling and diverting. Here is an advantage that theatre TV seems to have to itself. Houses equipped with large-screen television systems have seen for themselves that audiences viewing a football game in the theatre shout and yell and respond much the same way as they would if they were in the stands. And their enjoyment is even greater since everyone has a seat on the 50-yard line.

Now is the Time

Although the recent FCC order lifting the freeze on television stations leaves the door open for a marked increase in the number of areas that carry TV, this appears to be the proper time for theatre television to make its move. One reason for this is the fact that the TV networks have run into a little trouble of their own. The astronomical, and still spiraling, cost of putting on a show is making many sponsors a bit wary about sinking so much of their advertising appropriations into TV. In 1949, the charges for a 60-minute show over a major network were $10,000. In 1950 it had risen to $25,000 and in 1951 the cost was $45,000. Add the costs for talent and it becomes apparent why the sponsor is starting to ask himself if he is getting the most out of his advertising dollar. Another factor which seems to indicate that this is the proper time for the expansion of theatre television is the established fact that in areas which have had television for three or four years, the viewing time of the average family starts to decrease.

Having matured to a point well beyond the experimental stage, theatre television has proved its worth as a boxofiice attraction in 37 cities at the 75 theatres presently equipped for large-screen-TV. Moreover, the merits of the principal systems, RCAls direct projection and Iilm intermediate, Paramountls 35mm. film intermediate, Simplexls direct projection and 16mm. film intermediate, and the Trad-dual direct projection, have been sufficiently demonstrated to warrant the coniidence of exhibitors planning to install any of them in their theatres.

Exhibitors with foresight and imagination realize that they are on the edge of a development which could very well change the entire complexion of the movie industry. There have always been pessimists who scoff at new ideas and those who fight for progress. It is a good sign that at the present time the voices of the former are growing weaker. With good equipment available, and exhibitors with a flair for Showmanship and the courage to try something new, the future for theatre television seems bright and promising. '


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1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 406