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1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 50 (16)

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition
1953-54 Theatre Catalog
1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 50
Page 50

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 50

1952-53 Review of Theatre Construction

The Years Outstanding Developments in the Building and Remodeling of Theatres Are Surveyed Pictorially

Ever since the end of the second World War, the motion picture theatre industry has been going through a severe period of adjustment. The factors which brought this situation about are not hard to ascertain. The most obvious reason was of course the Gove ernmentis restrictions on building and building materials. However, with the international political and economic piCA ture threatening to explode at any moment-hurling the entire globe into a new and horrible wareit would have been unthinkable for the Government not to take measures to prepare for a possible conflict.

More direct causes leading to the shrinking of theatre construction, were things like home television. Rather than finding new theatres arising, it became an all too common thing to find former motion picture houses being converted into stores, being torn down, or left standing mute and empty.

The weight of the amusement tax, the spiraling building costs, and the general uncertainity about the future were all acting like firmly locked brakes which held construction and remodeling down to the barest minimum.

In addition to all these elements, there were also a number of fundamental population changes which greatly affected the industry. Motion pictures are a mass entertainment medium. Therefore, what the great bulk of the population does, where it lives, and how it travels has a vital induence on a theatre's future. Sociologists everywhere agree that the people are on the move. In almost every section of the country the trend is to move out of the city, and migrate to the suburbs and smaller communities.

The reason most generally offered for this restlessness among the people is the return to a larger family, and the desire to give the children the benefits of suburban living.

Another contributing factor is the steadily increasing number of automobiles on the roads, and the building of bigger and better highway networks, which makes it easier and faster to get about. Also, a number of industries have been leaving the cities because of overcrowding, taxes, and higher labor and material costs. Naturally a large number of workers follow the example set by their employers.

All of these reasons, and others, have contributed to the shrinking population of large urban centers. As a. result of this, prospective theatre buildcrs have been delaying any positive action until they could be fairly sure of locating in an area that was not in the process of moving on to greener pastures.

It can therefore be a surprise to no one who has been following the trends to realize that new theatre construction

and extensive remodeling of already existing houses, has been rather sparse. The steadily dwindling number of pages which THEATRE CATALOG has been devoting to a pictorial presentation of new theatres, is an accurate barometer of this rather unhappy fact.

As will be seen on the following pages, no particular type of construction seems to be dominant. In the last report, the greatest amount of activity seemed to take place in the huge suburban shopping centers tiiat were sprouting up all over the country. Although there is no project in this current group which seems to apply to this category, this policy of building a theatre as an integral part of a shopping center should continue to iiourish.

Causes For Optimism

Getting away from this honest, but rather grim appraisal of recent theatre construction activities, there appears to be every reason to look to the future with genuine enthusiasm and optimism.

In general, the entire subject of new theatre construction is definitely brightening. The post-war slump apparently reached its low during the past year. It appears that the famine is just about ended and that the next 12 months should be one of the most interesting and exciting periods in the entire history of the film industry.

One of the first encouraging events, which took place late in 1952, was the gradual relaxation of the Governments restrictions on construction. At first the National Production Authority, the Department of Commerce agency in charge of controlling vital materials, announced a slight increase in the amounts of these materials which could be had for amusement and entertainment construction projects. The general production picture continued to improve, and on June 30, 1953, all restrictions on building materials for recreational, amusement, and entertainment construction were lifted.

Canadian Boom

It is interesting to note that Canada is very Well represented in this years edition. At the present time the United Statesy northern neighbor is going through a robust and exciting period of economic development, With most of the world war torn, and with raw matcrials at a premium, the vast treasure chest of Canadais natural resources is in the process of being pried open. Taking its cue from this general happy situation in Canada, theatre building secms to be moving along in the same satisfactory groove.


Very few eyebrows should lift when it is noticed that of the 17 new theatre projects covered in this edition, nine of

them are drive-ins. The outdoor theatre has been the most vigorous branch of exhibition for the past number of years. With the lifting of the building ban, this move was accelerated, and hundreds of new outdoor theatres were quickly taken out of the blueprint stage, and construction began. An interesting fact, which has become more apparent with the passing of the months, is that many of these new drive-ins are deluxe operations. A good number of them have capacities close to 1000 cars, while others are presently operating with only 500 or 600 speaker positions, but built with the thought of expanding to perhaps double that amount at any time. This confidence in the future of drive-in exhibition demonstrated by the people who make their living from their operation, is indeed an encouraging sign.

Another trend which has appeared in the most recent drive-in construction, is the growing popularity of making provisions for walk-in trade. Some new ozoners have stands which hold as many as 500 persons, and the idea seems to be catching on with exhibitors and the public.

Concession buildings and patios are also being given more consideration than in the past. It has been found that an attractive patio with proper seating and table facilities, usually results in a substantial increase in concession item sales. There seems to be little doubt that drive-in construction will reach a new peak in the coming year.

New Sys'l'ems

As for conventional indoor houses, it appears that while there will be some new construction, the major area of activity will be in remodeling. Much of this will be the direct result of the new techniques which burst upon the industry in such an unexpected fashion.

The advent of 3-D and the various wide screen systems, has created a new interest in motion pictures.

Future Bright

In looking over the past year it can be clearly seen that while the first six months were a continuation of the downward spiral which had belabored the film industry, the latter half saw a definite reawakening of interest and activity. The end of the ban on construction, the development of revolutionary new techniques, improved construction methods and materials, plus a new fooling of confidence are strong indications that the worst might be over, and that next year will see this vastly improving situation flower into its full potential.

The theatres which are to be found on the following pages appear to be the advance guard of what may very well be the start of a new era in the motion picture theatre ilt'ld.

The future does indeed look bright.

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 50