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1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 55 (21)

1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition
1952 Theatre Catalog
1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 55
Page 55

1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 55

reverse slope is used for the orchestra floor, the cubical content volume can be reduced from conventional type of floor slope.


It is obvious that a theatre with a large stage would have a materially larger volume per seat. This likewise has considerable bearing on the unit cost per seat, as the cubic foot of stage space can be produced at considerably less cost than cubic foot of finished lobby or auditorium space.

Size and Spacing of Seats

Years ago it was not unusual to have a large proportion of seats in a theatre 19 inches and in some instances even 18 inches in width. It was also not unusual to have these spaced 30 inches back to back. Present day standards provide for a minimum Width of theatre chairs of 20 inches, and 34 and 36 inch spacing back to back are the rule rather than the exception. In some instances, even 38 and 40 inches are provided.

Width and Spacing of Aisles

There is a wide variation in code requirements as far as the width of aisles are concerned. There is also considerable variation in the regulations as they fix the number of seats between aisles. At one time in Chicago, the limit was 10 seats in a row between aisles. This may have been changed in recent years by amendments to laws concerned with building codes. A more customary figure is 14 seats per aisle. The Fire Hazards Law of Virginia, permits as many as 16 seats. Some codes require aisles at both ends of the rows of seats. By this is meant that there must be an aisle next to the wall since a row of seats cannot terminate against a wall.

Areas of Lobbies and Foyers

These areas, of course, will vary with the different plans and locations. If the theatre is combined with commercial areas, the lobbies are apt to be long and have considerable area. This is a matter of the individual theatre. There are, however, building codes which require certain areas of public space in proportion to a seating capacity. For instance, in Richmond, Virginia, one Square foot of foyer and lobby area must be provided for each Seat on each level. In some cities this is fixed at one and one-half square feet per seat.

Concession Areas

Theatre operators are finding that as more provisions are made for concession space, they are frequently confronted with the necessity of removing a number of seats in order to provide these facilities. Adequate space for large concession stands is rapidly becoming a must in theatre construction and modernization.

Outside Activities

Any provisions for outside activities, such as meeting rooms for community use, would have their direct influence on the cubical content per seat. Many neighborhood and suburban community theatres find such rooms necessary.


Architectural Style

This probably has less bearing on the problem now than it did in connection with the older theatres. For instance, the atmosphere type of house required a considerable ceiling height or pitch in the auditorium which was relatively cheap to produce, but increased the volume per seat considerably. Likewise, theatres which have a lot of ornate architectural treatment, such as the

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Construction and equipment costs have fluctuated widely for the period 19261950. Table I shows this fluctuation for a small, medium and large theatre during this period. It further shows the tendency (not necessarily so) of increased cost in construction and equipment per seat in the large theatre over the small theatre.

There is no reliable rule of thumb for estimating the value of a theatre. Each theatre needs to be considered individ

1929 1930 I93I 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 I94I 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948

CHART IL-Shown is the portion of the consumer's "expenditure dollar" spent in motion picture theatres from 1929 through 1948. Source: The U. S. Department ot Commerce.

Paramount and Roxy in New York, increased the ratio.


Equipment costs will increase per seat as the capacity increases, but not to the same extent as building costs per seat. Incidentally, equipment costs per seat are apt to vary widely. This can be readily understood when it is remembered that the opera chairs themselves can have a price tag on them that will vary anywhere from five to twenty dollars per seat.

ually. However, there is additional statistical information important in the appraisal of theatres to be found in a study of Charts 9A," "Bf HCu and 9D". From a study of Charts 9A" and 9B" it is seen that the competition for the amusement dollar is keener today than before. Pictures may be better than ever, but so are horse races, baseball, boxing matches, and so on.

It is apparent that as theatre seats increase and attendance falls off, the rental value and the market value of theatres decrease in direct relation to

CHART B.-Illustratecl is the portion of the consumer's "recreation dollar" spent in motion picture theatres Item 1929 through 1948. Source: The U. S. Department of Commerce.





1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 I94I 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948

1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 55