Happy 55th, Todd-AO & “Oklahoma!”

posted by Coate on October 13, 2010 at 8:15 am

The Original Todd-AO Roadshow Engagements

Compiled by Michael Coate

In commemoration of the 55th anniversary of the release of Oklahoma! and the introduction of the Todd-AO process, presented here is a list of the film’s original North American reserved-seat “roadshow” engagements. The classic Rodgers & Hammerstein film’s anniversary offers an opportunity to name-drop some famous theaters and to highlight for historical purposes those theaters which were the first anywhere in the world to be equipped for Todd-AO 70-millimeter presentation.

10.13.1955 … New York, NY — Rivoli (51 weeks)

11.17.1955 … Los Angeles, CA — Egyptian (51 weeks)

12.24.1955 … Los Angeles, CA — United Artists (52 weeks)
12.26.1955 … Chicago, IL — McVickers (47 weeks)

02.16.1956 … San Francisco, CA — Coronet (45 weeks)
02.20.1956 … Detroit, MI — United Artists (36 weeks)
02.28.1956 … Baltimore, MD — Film Centre (42 weeks)
02.29.1956 … Miami Beach, FL — Sheridan (41 weeks)

04.25.1956 … Toronto, ON — Tivoli (67 weeks)

05.04.1956 … Milwaukee, WI — Strand (32 weeks)
05.11.1956 … Montreal, QC — Alouette (34 weeks)

06.08.1956 … Tulsa, OK — Rialto (19 weeks)
06.15.1956 … Dallas, TX — Tower (22 weeks)
06.15.1956 … Pittsburgh, PA — Nixon (24 weeks)
06.21.1956 … New Orleans, LA — Panorama (22 weeks)
06.22.1956 … Houston, TX — Tower (24 weeks)

08.15.1956 … Buffalo, NY — Century (11 weeks)
08.15.1956 … Oklahoma City, OK — State (20 weeks)
08.21.1956 … Louisville, KY — Brown (19 weeks)
08.29.1956 … Indianapolis, IN — Lyric (22 weeks)
08.29.1956 … Philadelphia, PA — Midtown (17 weeks)

09.12.1956 … Boston, MA — Saxon (23 weeks)
09.26.1956 … Corpus Christi, TX — Tower (10 weeks)
09.26.1956 … Little Rock, AR — Capitol (9 weeks)

10.17.1956 … Denver, CO — Tabor (14 weeks)
10.17.1956 … Kansas City, MO — Tower (9 weeks)
10.25.1956 … San Antonio, TX — Broadway (15 weeks)

11.01.1956 … Seattle, WA — Blue Mouse (24 weeks)
11.01.1956 … Washington, DC — Uptown (23 weeks)
11.09.1956 … Portland, OR — Broadway (20 weeks)

The film’s 35mm general release in the United States began in November of 1956. (There were additional 70mm reserved-seat engagements of Oklahoma! during the late-1950s and 1960s, but the list above consists only of those engagements that commenced prior to the film being made available in its 35mm CinemaScope general-release version.)

The first international presentation of Oklahoma!, in the 35mm CinemaScope version, commenced on September 6, 1956, at the Odeon Leicester Square in London. The first international presentation of the 70mm Todd-AO version commenced on December 28, 1956, at the Shinjuku Koma in Tokyo.

Oklahoma! was re-released in 1983.

References: This article was compiled primarily by referencing Oklahoma! coverage in film industry trade publications and regional newspaper promotion archived digitally and/or on microfilm.

This is a revised and updated version of an article published in 2005 to commemorate the film’s 50th anniversary.

Comments (70)

ChasSmith on October 13, 2010 at 9:04 am

Wow. Thanks, as always.

A very early memory is being taken by my grandmother to see it in Columbus, Ohio. Okay, all I really remember is that it happened! Couldn’t even hazard a guess as to when, which version, etc. Knowing her habits, though, it would have been in the best possible theater in downtown Columbus.

markp on October 13, 2010 at 9:59 am

51 weeks at the now demolished Rivoli. We will never ever again see anything like that. And in 70MM none the less.

Nunzienick on October 13, 2010 at 11:40 am

Interestingly Miami Beach was the only city in Florida to play the original reserved-seat engagement in 70MM. Tampa’s Britton Theatre and St. Petersburg’s Center Theatre were both equipped for 70mm although they were probably not yet open when the the film premiered. Tampa more than likely played the 35MM version.

raysson on October 13, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Interestingly,Charlotte and Raleigh were the only cities in North Carolina to play the original reserved-seat enagement in 70MM.
Charlotte’s Carolina and Raleigh’s Ambassador were both equipped to show films presented in 70MM and in stereophonic sound.

The 35MM version played later on in Greensboro, Durham, Winston-Salem,and Wilmington. But it didn’t come to those cities until late 1956 or early or mid 1957.

muviebuf on October 13, 2010 at 2:42 pm

The 70MM Todd-AO version of “Oklahoma” was the opening attraction at the Shoppingtown in Syracuse NY when the theatre debuted I believe in late 1957.

JSittig1 on October 13, 2010 at 3:45 pm

It played at Hunts CineStage in Columbus.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on October 13, 2010 at 3:57 pm

I think it played in 70mm at National Hills Theatre in Augusta,Ga.

AGRoura on October 13, 2010 at 5:05 pm

I was in school in Washington DC at the time and went to Baltimore to see it. Near the bus terminal was a bar with the show “In person, Christine Georgenson, WOW, what a woman!” In case you are too young to remember, she was the first American transexual. She had the operation in Denmark. It was big front page news at the time.

AGRoura on October 13, 2010 at 5:08 pm

PS – Baltimore played it before Washington DC. It played in Washington months later as indicated above.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on October 13, 2010 at 7:57 pm

AGR,I think you miss spelled “her” last name.LOL.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on October 13, 2010 at 8:40 pm

1956 Miami Beach was the best place to catch the wealthy elite New Yorkers on summer vacation. It was not about Florida, it was about Miami tourism.

Jon Lidolt
Jon Lidolt on October 14, 2010 at 8:06 am

I wonder how many of these 70mm theatres were equipped with Todd-AO’s deeply curved 120º screen. The only ones I know of for sure were the Rivoli in NY, the Egyptian in Hollywood and the Tivoli in Toronto. Can anyone else add to this list?

Mikeoaklandpark on October 14, 2010 at 10:54 am

Does anyone know if Oklahoma played anywhere in Atlantic City.

AGRoura on October 14, 2010 at 5:14 pm

Mike: You are right. Was it Georgensen?
Jon: The Film Centre in Baltimore had the deep curved screen. The overture with the curtain opening to main titles with a black background coming on when the title song started and then the opening scene on the corn field was spectacular.
I always remembered the overture as being the same as in the Broadway show original cast recording, but when I saw the 80’s reissue here in NYC at Cinema 1, the screen was flat and the overture was as it is in the Laser Disc and the DVD. Am I right?

trailerjoh on October 15, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Wow, ran it in 70mm around 2000 or 2001 at the Paramount here in Austin, Tx. Always wondered why 24fps 70mm reels never came close to filling the reels. At 30fps, they were very full…and heavy. The Century JJ’s were especially noisy at 30fps too. But, it was like looking through a clear window. The image was so smooth and clear. Very impressive.


Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on October 15, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Agr,not sure of the spelling on her name.Thought it started with a “J”.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on October 16, 2010 at 4:52 pm

There is an awful movie based on her/his life, “The Christine Jorgensen Story”.

Mark_L on October 18, 2010 at 3:26 pm

ChasSmith &J Sittig:

The Todd-AO version of OKLAHOMA played a short 4 week run at the Cinestage in May, 1958, between the runs of AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS and SOUTH PACIFIC. It had previously played in Columbus in 35mm, possibly at the Palace.

AGRoura on October 19, 2010 at 1:15 pm

So now we know Mike, thanks Al. I saw the movie, it really was awful.
On the matter of the overture in the original roadshow presentations, do anyone remember if it was different in the 70mm reissue and the Laser Disc and DVD versions?

Cobalt on October 22, 2010 at 3:23 pm

So did a theatre need to install a 70MM projector in order to play OKLAHOMA while it was in roadshow release? Who paid for the install…the studio or theatre?

It’s fascinating to learn that Kansas City (my hometown) played OKLAHOMA in Todd AO but St. Louis didn’t. And little ol' Little Rock Arkansas and Corpis Christi Texas got it. But no Cleveland? Or Cincinnati? Or Atlanta? Weird.

I take it the theatre owner was on the hook for the install, as that might explain the theaters and cities chosen and the sequence of the OKLAHOMA bookings on the list.

I love these historical lists. Keep ‘em coming!

AGRoura on October 24, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Oklahoma and Around the World played in 35mm in San Juan, PR. Oklahoma in Cinemascope continuous performances, and World in roadshow, in a 35mm reduced print (Cinestage?) in a deeply curved scope screen at another theater, the Metropolitan. The first 70mm film in San Juan as in many other cities, was South Pacific and the Metropolitan owner paid for the installation of the equipment, projectors an a new bigger screen which was not as deeply curved as were the original screens required for Todd-AO.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on October 27, 2010 at 4:02 am

Thanks AGR.ON our old theatre screens 35mm was just good as 70mm.

raysson on October 29, 2010 at 1:22 pm

North Carolina:

Charlotte-Carolina Theatre


Other cities didn’t get the film until 1956 or early to mid-1957

raysson on November 17, 2010 at 11:31 am

Raleigh and Charlotte were not roadshow enagements.

Raleigh and Charlotte did not have this film shown in 70MM.

OKLAHOMA! when it premiered in the South,was shown only in selected cities in selected markets. Not of which ever played in the Carolinas.

The film’s 35MM general release didn’t come until November of 1956.
Raleigh and Charlotte only got the general release dates,but the film didn’t come that way until either December of 1956 or early-to-mid 1957. Other cities within the Carolinas didn’t get the film until either 1957 or 1958,and some cities didn’t get the film until 1960.

During its 35MM general release in the Carolinas,Charlotte got it first and then Raleigh. Other cities within the Carolinas didn’t get it until the summer of 1957.

raysson on November 17, 2010 at 11:34 am

Other larger Southern cities like Atlanta, Nashville, Richmond,
Memphis, Raleigh, didn’t get the film until either December of 1956 or early-to-mid 1957 during its initial general release.

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