Happy 50th, “Spartacus”

posted by Coate on October 6, 2010 at 11:10 am

The Roadshow Engagements

Compiled by Michael Coate

In commemoration of the golden anniversary of the release of Universal-International’s Spartacus, presented here is a list of the award-winning film’s principal roadshow engagements in the United States and Canada. The classic film’s anniversary offers an opportunity to name-drop some once-glorious theaters.

Directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Kirk Douglas and Laurence Olivier, Spartacus told the story of a gladiator who led a slave revolt during the 1st Century BC. Supporting cast included Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov, John Gavin, and Tony Curtis.

Between the autumn of 1960 and the spring of 1962, U-I booked over 1,000 roadshow engagements of Spartacus before placing the film into general release. The vast majority of these were “modified” roadshows, which meant, essentially, exclusive engagements with an increase in admission price, reserved performances (without the reserved-seating component), two or three showings per day, and standard 35mm presentation. The “full” roadshow bookings (the focus of this article) meant, for the most part, reserved seating, ten scheduled showings per week, increased admission price, and presentation in 70-millimeter and six-track stereophonic sound.

This (work-in-progress) list was created for the sake of historical record but is also a celebration of the fondly-remembered cinemas in which the film played as much as it is a celebration of the classic film. The bookings are arranged chronologically by premiere date, and duration data of the engagements, measured in weeks, is included for selected entries.

10.06.1960 … New York, NY —– DeMille (53 weeks)
10.13.1960 … Chicago, IL —– McVickers (23 weeks)
10.19.1960 … Los Angeles, CA —– Pantages (61 weeks)
10.27.1960 … Boston, MA —– Astor (22 weeks)

11.02.1960 … Philadelphia, PA —– Goldman (23 weeks)
11.03.1960 … Detroit, MI —– Madison (21 weeks)

12.15.1960 … Miami, FL —– 163rd Street (14 weeks)
12.22.1960 … Atlanta, GA —– Roxy
12.22.1960 … Cincinnati, OH —– Grand (13 weeks)
12.22.1960 … Cleveland, OH —– Palace (16 weeks)
12.22.1960 … Houston, TX —– Delman
12.22.1960 … Montreal, QC —– Alouette (22 weeks)
12.22.1960 … Pittsburgh, PA —– Nixon (12 weeks)
12.22.1960 … St. Louis, MO —– Esquire (15 weeks)
12.22.1960 … St. Petersburg, FL —– Center (11 weeks)
12.22.1960 … San Francisco, CA —– United Artists (15 weeks)
12.22.1960 … Seattle, WA —– Music Box (15 weeks)
12.22.1960 … Toronto, ON —– Uptown (18 weeks)

01.18.1961 … Washington, DC —– Warner (24 weeks)
01.19.1961 … Baltimore, MD —– Town (11 weeks)
01.19.1961 … Denver, CO —– Aladdin (22 weeks)

02.01.1961 … Milwaukee, WI —– Towne (11 weeks)
02.02.1961 … Portland, OR —– Broadway (8 weeks)
02.02.1961 … Salt Lake City, UT —– Centre (15 weeks)
02.21.1961 … Kansas City, MO —– Capri (26 weeks)

03.08.1961 … Dallas, TX —– Capri (9 weeks)
03.09.1961 … Indianapolis, IN —– Lyric (10 weeks)
03.09.1961 … Vancouver, BC —– Strand (18 weeks)
03.16.1961 … Louisville, KY —– Brown (8 weeks)
03.16.1961 … Minneapolis, NY —– Mann (12 weeks)
03.16.1961 … Rochester, NY —– Monroe
03.23.1961 … Syracuse, NY —– Eckel (11 weeks)

04.20.1961 … Oklahoma City, OK —– Criterion (26 weeks)

05.04.1961 … Buffalo, NY —– Granada
05.19.1961 … Phoenix, AZ —– Palms
05.19.1961 … Tucson, AZ —– Catalina
05.25.1961 … Albany, NY —– Ritz
05.25.1961 … Asbury Park, NJ —– St. James
05.25.1961 … Atlantic City, NJ —– Virginia
05.25.1961 … Omaha, NE —– Dundee
05.25.1961 … Richmond, VA —– Willow Lawn
05.25.1961 … San Antonio, TX —– Woodlawn (12 weeks)

06.22.1961 … Columbus, OH —– Cinestage (21 weeks)
06.22.1961 … Toledo, OH —– Pantheon (12 weeks)
06.23.1961 … Charlotte, NC —– Center

08.09.1961 … San Diego, CA —– Capri (20 weeks)

09.14.1961 … Providence, RI —– Elmwood (8 weeks)

The film’s general release began, in most markets, in 1962.

The first international booking commenced on December 8, 1960, at the Metropole in London.

Spartacus was re-released in 1967 and 1991.

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

Special Thanks: Jerry Alexander, Mark Huffstetler, Bill Kretzel, Mark Lensenmayer, Rick Mitchell, Gabriel Neeb, Bob Throop, Vince Young, and the librarians who helped me research information for this project.

Comments (22)

JodarMovieFan on October 6, 2010 at 11:29 am

Great job as always! This movie came out way before I was born, but I have been to the Warner Theatre for live shows and the inside is quite ‘small’ compared to say, DC’s Uptown.

Baltimore’s Town Theater is relatively nearby but its boarded up. I am curious to know if their screen and theater was more similar to our Uptown or more like the Warner, which, come to think of it, is like the Hippodrome in Balto.

veyoung52 on October 6, 2010 at 1:21 pm

The Town, as a Cinerama house, was more like the DC Warner than the Uptown….a “classic” Cinerama installation. Curtain track and screen outside of the proscenium…projection booths fully on the orchestra floor…ceiling not lowered. The Uptown was (is, sorta) of the so-called “Super Cinerama” design, with raised floor, lowered ceiling to give the effect of wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling screen. The Warner, of course, was of the classic Cinerama design.

moviebuff82 on October 6, 2010 at 3:33 pm

This is perfect timing. This year, the movie was re-released on bluray fully restored and uncut, and the guy who played Antonius, Tony Curtis, passed away. A TV show loosely based on the film and the legend debuted to decent ratings on Starz, although the guy who plays him is fighting cancer, forcing production of the second season to be halted.

KingBiscuits on October 6, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Never figured this to be so successful in Kansas City.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on October 6, 2010 at 10:11 pm

I like Kirk Douglas and Stanley Kubrick directed by favorite,2001,But i never could get into these types of movies.

efriedmann on October 7, 2010 at 9:42 am

Stanley Kubrick is my favorite all-time director. As much as I love SPARTACUS, this was definitely his most “non-Kubrick” film, as everything about the way it was made was strictly by Hollywood’s standards and not Kubrick’s own levels of artistic integrity. No wonder he left the United States after making this film.

CSWalczak on October 7, 2010 at 4:19 pm

There are many stories told about this film and its production, some of which are no doubt apocryphal, but there is no doubt that Kubrick was contracted to direct this film after the first director, Anthony Mann, was let go. Kirk Douglas was clearly the driving force behind this film, and, at the time Kubrick was still a young director. Though he had attracted considerable attention, he would not have had the clout in 1959 to have the kind of total control he would have in later decades. I am great fan of Kubrick too, but I also think his ego sometimes got in the way of some of his films, such as “Barry Lyndon” and “Eyes Wide Shut,” which are visually magnificent but weak in many other ways.

GFeret on October 7, 2010 at 4:21 pm

alex north’s SPARTACUS musical score is exquisite to listen to all on its own, as i’ve done for awhile

amusing to me how the late mr curtis was around to re-loop his dialogue for the restored ‘oysters vs clams’ sequence some 30 years later, but to do sir lawrence who had since passed, he recommends anthony hopkins

and actress jean simmons is so beautiful

little is said about fired director anthony mann’s footage

CSWalczak on October 7, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Martin Winkler, in his book about “Spartacus,” quotes Mann and Kubrick with regard to the film and provides some information about Mann’s contributions that survive in the film; there is an excerpt here: http://tinyurl.com/24stabt

I too love the Film’s score and also that terrific title sequence designed by Saul Bass. My favorite fun fact about the film is that most of the leading Roman characters were played by Brits while most of the slaves were played by Americans.

MPol on October 8, 2010 at 12:36 am

I remember seeing “Spartacus” on the great big, wide screen, in the movie theatre, when it first came out. It was quite good. That’s another wonderful classic that should be re-released in the movie theatres.

EnnisCAdkins on October 8, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Great Job on SPARTACUS. Hope you can do the same on THE ALAMO that was released the same month in 1960 and EXODUS in December 1960. Both were 70MM Roadshow, Hard Ticket Presentations.

raysson on October 8, 2010 at 2:23 pm

About its North Carolina Enagement:
The Center Theatre in Charlotte was its only roadshow enagement showing that premiered on June 23,1961.
Other cities didn’t get this film until later on during 1961 and within its general release in 1962. But I do remember where “Spartacus” was booked……
-State Theatre
-Carolina Theatre
-Fox Theatre

raysson on October 8, 2010 at 2:27 pm

The 1967 re-released of “Spartacus” was cut from several scenes including the “infamous” bath scene with Laurence Olivier and Tony Curtis. The film was also re-released again in selected markets in 1970 as well.

But it wasn’t until 1994,when that scene and others were faithfully restored in its original 194 minute running time when it was re-released back in theatres in selected cities for its enagement,this time around with the original Technicolor restoration(by Robert Harris and James Katz),and presented in 70MM-Six Track Dobly Stereo.

raysson on October 8, 2010 at 2:33 pm

In its original 1967 re-released,only 23 minutes was cut from the original film,including the “infamous” bath scene and the “notorious” suicide scene with Charles Laughton that was missing from its original 194 minute running.

raysson on October 8, 2010 at 2:41 pm

That is if Michael adds them on this site, here are the original release dates:
“THE ALAMO”(Batjac Productions/United Artists)-was released on October 24, 1960. There are 2 versions of this film;the original 202 minute running time that was shown in selected markets;and the 167 minute version that went to general release.

“EXODUS”(Carlyle Productions/Otto Preminger/United Artists)was released a week before Christmas on December 15, 1960 with its original running time of 212 minutes.

GFeret on October 8, 2010 at 3:28 pm

brits cast as romans in SPARTACUS as and other hollywood biblical epics had plenty precedent by then, just look at BEN-HUR

an omission in my post yesterday, obvious considering Tony Curtis' recent passing, was that lovely Jean Simmons (herself a brit) left us early in 2010

lastly i forgot to mention this was one of 2 films i saw around the same time w/ Woody Strode who really impressed me, the other title being THE LAST VOYAGE

GFeret on October 8, 2010 at 3:29 pm

brits cast as romans in SPARTACUS and other hollywood biblical epics had plenty precedent by then, just look at BEN-HUR

an omission in my post yesterday, obvious considering Tony Curtis' recent passing, was that lovely Jean Simmons (herself a brit) left us early in 2010

lastly i forgot to mention this was one of 2 films i saw around the same time w/ Woody Strode who really impressed me, the other title being THE LAST VOYAGE

GFeret on October 8, 2010 at 3:30 pm

(excuse my inadvertant double key entry above)

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on October 13, 2010 at 11:48 pm

The original Miami run was such a disappointment for Wometco that they refused to show Road Show films for many year at any of their theatres.

“SPARTACUS” was eventually moved to touristy South Beach for a few weeks, but the film was badly handled in that market.

The 163rd Street theatre was a ‘neighborhood run’ mall location that should never have been expected to succeed with a long run Road Show release.

RSM3853 on December 20, 2017 at 3:37 pm

Also reissued in 1964.

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