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1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 105 (71)

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition
1953-54 Theatre Catalog
1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 105
Page 105

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 105

IThe' decision to move television into the'hdp'ive-in was made by the Smith Management Company, Boston, who own and operate the 5-3 Drive-In, on Route 5-3, in Rutherford, New Jersey, The Walcott-Marciano heavyweight title bout in Philadelphia was selected as the event to raise the curtain on drive-in television for a number of reasons. i

For one thing the fight gave every indication of being an exciting and colorfulwafiair, and public interest was running high; Another important factor was that the bout was to be carried by 50 theatres in 30*cities across the country equipped with, theatre television. This representeddtthe largest network of participating theatres at that time. Previous experiments in conventional houses showed that audiences would pay advanced prices for such a program. Another thing that was favorable was the fact that there would be a complete home television and radio blackout, which meant that theatre TV had a complete exclusive. The fight was held in Philadelphia, which was near enough to the 8-3 to minimize the chance of line or mechanical difficulties, and close enough to New York City to be fairly sure of getting a good turnout. 0n the basis of these factors it was decided to make the tryeif the proper equipment was available.

Problems Arise

One of the problems which had to be reckoned with was the size of the drive-in. The 8-3 is the largest outdoor theatre in the state of New Jersey, and one of the largest in the country. To properly televise an event in a drive-in of such dimensions, it meant that the equipment used would have to project the largest picture ever produced on television. Another problem was to decide whether or not an instantaneous TV system. or an intermediary one would be best suited to obtain the desired results.

RCA engineers were called in and after studying the situation they decided that their standard model instantaneous theatre television equipment would be ableto do the job. The equipment was placed'in a five ton truck which was to serve as the temporary outdoor projection booth, and arrangements were made to have the signal microwaved from the Empire State Building. The American Telephone and Telegraph Company proe vided cable facilities from Rutherford Center to the drive-in, a distance of more than four miles.

Selling the Show

When all the arrangements were made the next phase of the operation, selling it to the public, went into effect. If the management had any doubts as to whether or not they had something which appealed to the man in the street, these doubts were soon drowned in the Sci). of advance ticket requests that came floodingr into the boxofficc. Within one Week of the first announcement it was necessary for the management to make use of the advertising time contracted for with WI'AT, a local radio station, to request that no more ticket orders be Sent as the event was a complete sellout, and to apologize for the lack of additional facilities.


Price Sale

To make sure that the show would be worth the advanced admission prices, two strong first run features were booked for that night. The price set for cars was a flat $10, with no limit as to the number of passengers. Arrangements were also made to accommodate some 1200 ttwalk-ins," at a fee of two dollars and fifty cents per person. By fight time the 8-3 was filled to its 1300 car capacity, and every seat in the temporarily set up walk-in section was

occupied. Despite the early notice of the sellout, police reported a traffic snarl that had automobiles moving at a snaills pace for miles on either side of the drive-in. One estimate was that no less than 5000 people had to be turned away.

All attendance records for the 8-3 were shattered as a gross revenue of $16,000 was run up for the one night. Now although no one would even laughingly suggest that such a turnout would be the regular order of things, it does offer positive proof that television in

ABOVE: THE RCA INSTANTANEOUS theatre TV equipment is showu mounted aboard the truck which acted as the Ioutdoor projection booth. BELOW: Part of the throng which jammed the 5-3 to see the largest TV picture ever shown. with the longest projection throw ever used in theatre television.

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 105