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1954-55 Theatre Catalog, 12th Edition, Page 82 (48)

1954-55 Theatre Catalog, 12th Edition
1954-55 Theatre Catalog
1954-55 Theatre Catalog, 12th Edition, Page 82
Page 82

1954-55 Theatre Catalog, 12th Edition, Page 82

1953-54 Review of Theatre Construction

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

Although the development and acceptance of such things as CinemaScope, stereophonic sound, and other projection and sound techniques have succeeded in breathing new life into the exhibition end of motion pictures, it has done little to revive the construction of new indoor houses. Anyone who has had even a passing interest in the field can easily determine the reasons why. In the past 18 month period the average theatre operator has had to spend large sums of money for 3-D equipment, wide screens, anamorphic attachments, stereophonic sound equipment, etc. Even though most of these exhibitors did make some money as a result of showing films in the new processes, it must be remembered that it was the first time since the end of World War II that such a situation was common, and that most theatremen did not have large cash reserves. Therefore, although the theatre industry is now in the midst of one of its more prosperous periods, there is not yet enough capital available to undertake major theatre construction and still keep up with the equipment demands of preSently existing situations.

Despite the fact that it is not possible to report a great surge in theatre building, there has been slight rise over the period covered in the last edition of THEATRE CATALOG. "Thevoutstanding feature in all of the new indoor houses is that the buildings'l'ljiave been built specifically with wide screen and directional sound in mind. The designs are usually fairly simple, and make generous usenofuthe sweeping functional lines so prevalent in modern architectural thinking. The auditoriums in particular,

NEW DRIVE-INS. such as the Hill Top, Escanaba, Mich" have continued to he built by the hundreds in all parts of the country, at a steady pace.

indicate that designers and exhibitors alike have finally agreed that the lighting, decor, seating, etc., should add to the comfort of the audience, but should not create a condict for attention betWeen the screen and the surroundings.

Going a little further into the matter of audience comfort, largely as a result of watching television at home the average movie-goer today expects much more in the way of comfort and luxury when he visits his local theatre, than he did five or 10 years .ago. As a result, items that were once optional in a theatre, such as air conditioning, large chairs, attractively furnished lounges, are all considered musts in the current situation.

Although new theatres have not been on the increase, there has been a definite surge of remodeling activity, which was predicted in this space last year. As pointed out before, most exhibitors do not have the money to build new theatres, but since they were forced to install new screens and other equipment, many of them took the opportunity to also install much needed seating, remove relics of the f20is, and in general give a bright new air to the entire operation.

As usual the one branch of theatre construction that continues on its merry upward spiral is the drive-in. Last year THEATRE CATALOGis survey showed that there were 3,841 outdoor theatres in operation in the United States. That figure today is well into the 4000 category, and could very possibly approach the 5000 mark in the near future.

The most interesting phase of drivein construction has been the attempts to bring the new wide screen systems

INDOOR THEATRE construction activity remodeling such as that at the Fifth Avenue Cinema. New York City.

outdoors. Because of the tremendous areas which must be covered by the drive-in screen, and the need to maintain proper aspect ratios, tOWers well over 100 feet in length are quickly becoming a common sight.

A matter Which .has not yet been completely determined is the practicability of stereophonic sound for outdoor theatres. Currently there are two methods available. One makes use of a speaker containing three speaker cones, with one being located in the center, one on the left and the other on the right in order to give a directional quality to the sound. The other uses two standard speakers with one being used on the left side of the auto and the other placed on the right. As yet, there ,have been only a very few outdoor exhibitors who have installed stereophonic sound in their theatres.

The trend towards building drive-ins with auditoriums for patrons who arrive on foot, which was first noted last year, continues to grow. Many new drive-ins have constructed buildings complete in every sense except that a large window has been substituted for the screen.

The great comeback made by the entire motion picture industry should continue. However, with the emphasis still on projection and sound, it does not yet appear that indoor theatre construction will show an appreciable increase. Extensive remodeling of existing houses should quicken its pace. As for drive-ins, there are signs that they are approaching the saturation point in many areas, but should still remain the area of greatest construction activity.

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1954-55 Theatre Catalog, 12th Edition, Page 82