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1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 348 (310)

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition
1953-54 Theatre Catalog
1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 348
Page 348

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 348

publicize the event. The all important prestige angle was played up by issuing a hard ticket, similar to the kind used for legitimate stage productions, at advanced admissions. To avoid anyone arriving at the theatre only to discover that there were no more seats, all were reserved in advance. Everything was done to create an air of dignity and maturity, and to make going to the theatre a special event, rather than just ugoing to the movies], Here was a simple answer to the problem. A fine adult film, no scramble for seats, and an audience with similar tastes in motion pictures.


The Orillia experiment proved to be highly successful. A look at the results is quite revealing. The night selected was Thursday, a traditionally bad evening for business. Despite this, and the advance in prices, the house was well iilled, and certainly drew a larger crowd than on a typical Thursday evening. Of even more importance was the fact that 30 percent of the people attending usually NEVER went to the movies at all, and another 40 percent were very casual patrons, with two or three visits to the theatre a year as typical attendance. Here were the folks who represented your lost audience.

The Plan Grows

The Curtain at 8:30 plan spread and soon was in operation in a number of theatres throughout Canada. As would be expected, the idea soon crossed the border, and the Walter Reade Theatres instituted a uCurtain at 8:40" program. It consisted of single showings on Wednesday evenings of films which normally would not be seen outside of New York Cityls intimate houses. Seats were reserved, coffee was served free in the lounges and the program ended by 10:30.

As in Canada, the scheme soon proved itself workable and profitable, and more and more theatres began to turn to this type of operation. In Pittsburgh, for instance, a regular commercial Warner theatre, the Squirrel Hill, opened its HCurtain at 8:4(W policy with a showing of uthe Lavender Hill Mob}, The film ran 29 days and business was almost 50 percent better than average for the 840 seat house. A HCinema Club Series" was started at the Mayfiower, Buggie, Ore.,

which called for the selling of four tickets to university students for three dollars, admitting them to one special film shown every other week for four weeks. Before the policy even went into

effect, the management advance sale of $3,000.

Large houses and small situations in communities of all sizes have made use of the basic uCurtain at 8:30" idea. In almost all cases, while the results did not warrant a complete switch to an art house policy, it did show a profit and certainly was worth the effort. Realizing the value of the plan a major film company, Universal-International, has developed a special kit and other aids for the theatreman who wishes to experiment with film presentations, either on a full or part time. basis. Here are some of the highlights of that kit which are designed to orient an exhibitor with the mechanics of establishing a uCurtain at 8:30" policy.

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Special circumstances in each situation will determine how often art pictures should be shown, that is, whether one night a week, two nights a week, one night every two weeks, etc. You will have to analyze each situation very carefully to determine the potential of art patrons. For instance, if there is a large college enrollment in a given situation, you can count on a certain basic audience among them. Likewise, large clubs or groups who will be involved in your art presentations will give you some basis for judging your potential. It is better to start on a minimum basis, rather than play an art picture too long and be disappointed with the results. If there has been no art picture exhibition, or if it has been very sporadic in a given town, it is safe to say that one night or at most, two nights would be sufficient for a starter.


Remember this: the number of times per week or month that you play art pictures is less important than the regularity with which you play them. And donlt expect to build Rome in a day. You are a ffpioneerli bringing a new entertaimmmtform to many peoplceand people donlt develop new tastes overnight. It will take a showing of at least six to eight art: pictures before your

WALTER READE Theatres brought the limited on house policy to this country, and fill! it into practice at their Paramount. Plainiield. N. I.

tfhard core" or art film fans will begin to expand. But it will expand.

Before you determine which nights of the week are best for your art film showings, check around to see that the evenings do not conflict with other activities in your town such as concerts, stage presentations, important club meetings or other regular events to which your potential patrons may be attracted in large numbers.


If possible get a very important club, bank, insurance company or other institution to sponsor the art picture presentation plan. This can be done on the basis of their bringing a new level of entertainment to the town. Arrange to send out, in their name, letters and heralds announcing the inauguration of the event, and telling why they are participating in it. Personally contact womenls clubs, Parent-Teachers Associae tions, schools, lawyerls guilds, medical associations, churches, etc. Explain your program clearly and tell them why you feel free to come to them asking support. This support could be given in two ways-through announcements at their meetings or assemblies, or through letters to their members.

Appeal directly to the editors and publishers of newspapers in addition to the drama critics on the basis of the introduction again of a new and important level of entertainment in the community. Send nevvs releases to local radio stations particularly commentators and local news programs; or better still, arrange for someone from the theatre to appear as a guest on several programs to discuss the new policy. Get an inHuential public official to issue a statement praising the policy for making it possible for the community to see certain outstanding films which heretofore had not been shown in that community. Since you will be showing pictures from many countries a very good angle for educav tors and public officials is to stress the importance of these films as a means to a better understanding of other countries and other peoples.

ONE OF THE most important things to remember with such a program is to do everything that will give the show an air of dignity. Selling hard tickets in advance is cm effective move.

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 348