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1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 66 (32)

1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition
1952 Theatre Catalog
1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 66
Page 66

1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 66

1951-52 Review of New Theatre Construction

The Yearis Outstanding Developments in the Building And Remodeling of Theatres Are Surveyed Pictorially

The trends in theatre design which have been developing over the past decade have been drawn into sharp focus by the very paucity of new theatres built during the year. For with government restrictions on construction accounting for a large reduction in the number of new theatres, those that were built repreSent a highly selective group, with their common characteristics and the factors responsible for

them clearly defined. An overall examination of the new

theatres erected during the year will reveal two distinct developments: a growing regard for the smaller capacity, intimate atmosphere, and refinement usually associated with the art house, and the increasing importance of theatres in suburban shopping centers. Underlying both developments are a multitude of pOWerful influences.

TWO of the most basic of these influences, which are revolutionizing the entire iieid of retail marketing as well as producing marked changes in the nations theatres, are the skyrocketing rise in population and the equally great increase in the number of automobiles in use. The past decade has witnessed the largest rate of population increase in the countryls history, and the nation is still growing at the amazing rate of 2,500,000 every year. Population is being decentralized from the large metropolitan areas and is being dispersed throughout the suburbs, which account for almost half of the total population increase since 1940. At the same time, the number of privately owned automobiles has risen from 32,000,000 in 1940 to well over 50,000,000 today. The result is that city streets can no longer adequately cope with the increased traffic flow and the high demand for parking space, both serious deterrents to movie-going or shopping in the city.

iRetail merchants began to follow their customers out to the suburbs several years ago, and the logical conclusion of the trend is the regional shopping center, huge projects usually including a large department store branch, 40 or more smaller shops and stores, and a theatre.

Shopplng Center Theatres

It is the regional shopping center theatre, then, with its excollent parking facilities, lower operating costs, easy accessibility to growing suburban populations, and its ability to add the attraction power of 40 or 50 shops to its own patron appeal, which is the most-outstanding development in the field of exhibition this year. Several of these deluxe shopping center houses are illustrated on the pages that follow, and one of them, the Cinema at the Shopper's World, near Boston, is described in detail in the article "A New Theatre in a

Regional Shopping Center" appearing elsewhere in this edition.

Other influences which are playing a large part in the planning of new theatres are the unprecedented high cost of construction and equipment, the highly competitive situation of any given thea ----- BRIEF: The 22 new theatres and 7 remodeling projects depicted on, the following pages are representative of the progress in theatre construction and design made in the past year. Each was selected on the basis of functional plan, structural beauty, and facilities for serving particular types of patronage.

As physical expansion of the industry was sharply curtailed by government restrictions on construction . . . there were much fewer new projects from which to select the best than in previous years . . . but the ones that were chosen are an even more definite index of design trends . . . because they represent a higher percentage of the total con: struction accomplished during the year than has ever been reviewed pictorially in THEATRE CATALOG.

This annual cross-section . . . perhaps the most outstanding feature of this publication . . . has long been a favorite with designers, builders, and investors . . . and is now regarded as an international standard of theatre development;

tre and the possible oversupply of seats in its particular area, high overhead costs, and the realization that the easychair relaxation of viewing television at home must be surpassed by unmatched Comfort and convenience at the theatre. These factors, more than any other, are responsible for the many fine intimate theatres of the art house type which were developed during the year.

Ari Houses

To escape high construction costs, profit by the low overhead that a small theatre requires, and maintain the at Most of the theatres shown in (his pictorial review as well as several others not depicted will receive bronze Merit Award plaques, presented for the third consecutive year by THEATRE CATALOG and the Physical Theatre Department of its sister pub lication, EXHIBITOR, in acknowledgment of the very best design and construction accomplishments of the year. This Annual TOSCART now distinguishes, and graces the facia or lobby wall of, some of the worldis finest theatres.

mosphere of intimacy desirable in a theatre which caters to a select, discriminating patronage, these new arthouse-type showcases have seating capacities of 500 or less, and are designed to provide the utmost in theatre comfort. BecauSe they feature foreign films or domestic product of limited appeal, and because they often operate on a longrun policy, these art-type theatres must necessarily be situated in large metropolitan areas in order to draw suflicient numbers of discriminating patrons, over long periods of time, to operate at a profit. The marked succeSS of the art house and the notable increase in the number of theatres of this type in the past year indicates that further expansion in this direction will be a continuing trend in the future. Outstanding examples of the small. intimate theatre are the Normandie, Fine Arts, and Little Carnegie, all in New York City, the Playhouse, Baltimore, Md., and others pics tured on the following pages.

Progress Continues

In other theatres built during the year, regardless of whether they are neighborhood shopping district houses or deluxe center-city showcases, patron satisfaction continues to be the dominant theme. Sumptuous lounges, many of them equipped with television, cry rooms

' and private party sections are included

in many of the new houses. Increasing consciousness of the parking problem is reflected in the Special attention accorded parking facilities wherever space permits. Reduced seating capacities, with the greater aisle spacing they permit, are a continuing characteristic of the year's theatres, showing an awareness of the importance of optimum comfort. Safety, lighting, and the perfect presentation of the screen program are persistent points of emphasis evident in the total picture of theatre construction. The year has seen more extensive application of new decorative materials and some interesting new uses for such long-established materials as glass, aluminum, and artificial stone.

In brief, theatres are being designed to meet special, sharply defined needs; offset competition from other theatres and other media of entertainment in definite, positive ways; and function with the highest degree of efficiency and profit in particular situations. As never before, theatres are being built with a purpose.

While the years progress must be charted in terms of quality, rather than quantity, the high percentage of really excellent houses among the new ones is nonetheless gratifying. But more significant, the relatively few new theatres built during the year stand out in sharp relief to indicate the direction of future trends.

1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 66