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1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 349 (311)

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition
1953-54 Theatre Catalog
1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 349
Page 349

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 349

AT THE lime of the performance it is wise to have the staff alert and properly dressed, as this is a port of the "special event" appeal.

Certain mailing lists for heralds and letters are much more important than others; for instance, choice lists would be theatre groups, symphony supporters, opera lovers, foreign language groups, etc. Put a simple word trailer on the screen suggesting that patrons ask the manager about the new policy to be instituted on such and such a date and prepare a brochure or throw-away to hand to patrons prior to the starting of the policy.


How you sell is as important as what you sell. Do not send anyone to address a group who does not have a very good concept of the whole idea, and who has not seen and appreciated a few art pictures himself. In your letters and throwaways, avoid the cliches of Umagnificent," nepic," "spectacular," and instead use moderate copy with quotes from such sources as the New York Times, Time Magazine, Saturday Review of Literature, the New Yorker, etc. Those quotes can usually be obtained from the distributors of the pictures you book. A good rule-of-thumb is to undersell rather than oversell. Remember that many of the art theatre patrons will be disillusioned movie-goers of the past and you must not disillusion them again.

Only experience can teach you whether or not a single feature policy or a double feature policy is best for any given situation. It may be that certain pictures Very highly praised all over the country may go better as single features, while others of lesser stature may be best as part of a double bill. Short subjects very carefully selected and properly publicized can be extremely important to your program.

Balanced Programs

When you play double features do not put two heavy profound subjects on the same bill. At all times, whether with two features or with shorts, try for a balanced program just as any good hooker of commercial pictures does. Art house patrons are far more concerned

SOME THEATRES have found (hut it is wise at these showings to close down the popcorn machines. A very popular step is to serve free coffee and doughnuts before and after shows.


about seeing a picture from the beginning than are regular picture-goers. Listen carefully to the criticism of your patrons and make your starting times as convenient as possible for the majority. Advertise your feature starting times.

Remember at all times that art program patrons are somewhat more demanding when it comes to their conveniences than are regular picture-goers. In addition to a convenient starting time for the feature, make sure that your house is spotlessly clean, particularly the rest rooms. Your ushers must be as courteous as possible. If you can arrange on your own, or through tie-ups to serve coffee or cigarettes in the lounge, that will help. Do not push your candy sales too hard, and it is wisest to close down your popcorn machine altogether and get rid of the smell of popcorn oil as best you can. Do not put commercial advertising on your screen.

At an art theatre showing, show only the trailers for the next weele art pictures, unless you have a very good ffcriticsil picture scheduled at some other time during the week.


By following the plan as outlined here it is possible for almost any theatre operator to institute an art program policy with very little risk of either losing income, or regular patrons. The "Curtain at 8:3(W formula has a number of advantages which make it worthwhile to institute.

One of the first of these advantages is that it may be installed in almost any type of house. It is equally practical for a midtown spot as it is for a neighborhood house. As proven by actual experiences, the policy has been successful in large communities and small rural situations. In many ways it is ideal for the small independent with a flair for Showmanship.

As mentioned earlier, the television threat is not of major importance in an art program policy as most of the potential customers for such programs regard home TV offerings in the same light as they do the average films which they shun.

Particularly in smaller towns and cities, the theatre gains much in the way of personal prestige as a force for the raising of the cultural, educational,

and entertainment standards. Quite often the manager of the theatre is looked upon with new respect, and as an active worker for the betterment of the community. In generalithe ffCurtain at 8:30" policy does a splendid public relations job both for the theatre, and the industry as a whole.

More Advantages

Another important thing to remember is that the theatre does not lOSe any of its regular patrons while making this special effort to develop its art house element. In most cases, it is neither wise nor profitable to convert to an exclusive art house policy. By setting aside a certain evening, or evenings, for such presentations, enough playing time is still left available for the presentation of the more orthodox motion pictures.

Of Course every exhibitor is interested in costs. Here again uCurtain at 8:30" is not prohibitive. The costs entailed in preparing mailings, special advertising, tickets, free coffee, etc., are usually more than compensated for by the advance in admission prices. There seems little doubt that persons who attend these programs do not mind paying a little more for the opportunity to see films which appeal to their tastes, and in an atmosphere which caters to their desires and inclinations.


The general publicls interest in things which were always considered uarty" and had appeal to only a select group, has been growing rapidly in the last decade. Proof of this can be found in the increasing number of ballet companies, opera and symphonic groups that are to be found throughout the country. With this rise of interest in cultural subjects, there has been a corresponding rise in the appeal of foreign films and other art house productions.

The flCurtain at 8:30" policy makes it possible for exhibitors to cash in on this trend. With very little danger of antagonizing the bulk of tho movie-going public, the institution of a limited art policy presents the enterprising theatremun with the opportunity to increase his profits, cater to a group too long absent from the motion picture theatres, and generously contribute to the lifting of the cultural level of his community.

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 349