Happy 45th, “The Sound Of Music”

posted by Coate on March 2, 2010 at 5:55 am

[This is a revised and updated version of an article published in 2005 to commemorate the film’s 40th anniversary.]

THE SOUND OF MONEY:
CELEBRATING THE 45TH ANNIVERSARY OF “THE SOUND OF MUSIC”

By Michael Coate

So you’re impressed with the box-office performance of AVATAR, eh? Never before has a movie made so much money so quickly? Well, flash back a few decades and consider another movie that rocked the industry.

Never mind that THE GODFATHER and THE EXORCIST grossed $100 million. Never mind that JAWS grossed $200 million. Forget the umpteen times you returned to see STAR WARS, helping propel its original box-office performance close to $300 million. Forget the $350 million E.T. made. And ignore the $600 million amassed by TITANIC. Before all of those spectacular feats there was another motion picture that brought in huge sums of money from the get-go and spawned an insane amount of repeat business. The movie in question was THE SOUND OF MUSIC, the beloved film production of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical which in turn was based upon the real-life adventures of the von Trapp family and the German films DIE TRAPP-FAMILIE (1956) and DIE TRAPP-FAMILIE IN AMERIKA (1958). The award-winning 1965 film performed as a blockbuster before the industry knew just what a blockbuster was.

So…whether you believe the hills are alive with the sound of music or alive with the sound of mucus, I hope you’ll take a moment to enjoy this look back at the original exhibition history of THE SOUND OF MUSIC on the occasion of its 45th anniversary. Included herein will be references to hundreds of “Cinema Treasures” from a bygone era. I predict reading this will conjure up memories of when and where you saw the film for the first time (and the second time… and the third…).

INTRODUCTION

Part of the success of any motion picture is due in part to the manner in which it is marketed and distributed. In the case of THE SOUND OF MUSIC, its distributor, 20th Century-Fox, chose a release pattern whereby the $8 million film, following its world premiere on March 2, 1965 in New York and continuing over a span of six weeks, was booked on a reserved-seat “roadshow” basis exclusively in a single theater in each of 51 of the top markets in North America. The theaters selected to open the film, each of which was located in a market exceeding a population of 200,000 (1960 census), were equipped with 70-millimeter projection and stereophonic sound. Fox ordered a considerable number of expensive 70mm prints for this film, no doubt to showcase the production’s beautiful Todd-AO large-format cinematography and dynamic, music-filled soundtrack.

THE SOUND OF MUSIC, directed by Robert Wise (THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, WEST SIDE STORY) and featuring Julie Andrews' unforgettable performance, was among a number of prestigious productions given the “roadshow” treatment, whereby a film was booked as an exclusive engagement in major cities and would play for many, many months before being put into a nationwide general release. Although roadshow presentations had been around since the dawn of the movie industry, they enjoyed a renaissance in the 1950s and ‘60s thanks in part to “large format” processes such as Cinerama and 70mm. Much like a Broadway show, reserved-seat tickets were sold in advance and at a higher-than-usual cost. Typically there were ten shows per week: a single “performance” in the evening with a matinee on weekends, holidays and one weekday. The roadshow experience, typified by high-class musicals such as MY FAIR LADY and historical epics like LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, was enhanced by the use of state-of-the-art projection and sound technologies of the day and the sale of souvenir program booklets. And, given that the typical film selected to be roadshown had a lengthy running time, there often was an intermission, and, in some cases, an overture, entr'acte and exit music. Other popular and critically-acclaimed roadshow releases from the '50s and '60s included THIS IS CINERAMA, OKLAHOMA!, AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, BEN-HUR, WEST SIDE STORY, HOW THE WEST WAS WON, DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, and 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.

Roadshow-style exhibition, however, had died out by the early 1970s due to a number of factors, including too many roadshows in release at the same time (diluting their value as a special event); a string of critical and/or box-office disappointments in the late 1960s (STAR!; PAINT YOUR WAGON; HELLO, DOLLY!; etc.); audiences gravitating toward counter-culture and youth-oriented films (EASY RIDER, WOODSTOCK, etc.); studios favoring nationwide, saturation-style booking over limited-market exclusives; and the trend of having films booked into newly-built suburban multiplexes instead of in older, single-screen downtown venues.

What is noteworthy about Fox’s distribution of THE SOUND OF MUSIC is that roadshow attractions typically were limited to “important” markets (such as those included in the March-April 1965 launch of the film; see list below), but due to the incredible success of the movie from day one, the studio elected to delay a general release of the film and continued booking the film over a two-year span in not just the large markets but also as a roadshow in small and medium-sized markets, including in many that had never before played a film on a hard-ticket, roadshow basis.

The gamble paid off as industry trade publication Variety reported THE SOUND OF MUSIC in North America during its first twelve months of release grossed a remarkable $43 million (plus another $14 million internationally). Now before you snicker at that figure in light of the vast sums of money today’s movies generate, consider that it was earned with adult tickets typically no more than $2 or $3 and in only about 150 theaters, each showing the film an average of ten times per week. By contrast, films today, on average, play in 3,000-5,000 theaters, 35 times per week, and with $7-12 tickets. Do the math…

“I knew we had a good picture,” producer-director Robert Wise remarked to Variety in autumn 1965. “But I had no idea that it would become such a staggering hit.” To this day, THE SOUND OF MUSIC holds for a great many theaters the house record for longest-running and/or top-grossing engagement.

Wise also recognized the value of showmanship as well as the battle with exhibitors to install and maintain the very best presentation equipment, for he hoped that audiences everywhere would have an opportunity to experience films under the best possible circumstances.

“I don’t want to diminish the audience reaction,” the Oscar-winning filmmaker told Variety prior to the film’s premiere. “I can’t accept seeing only 75-80 percent of the creative effort of all concerned being shown and heard on-screen in theaters. The man who sees a roadshow at a theater several months after it has opened deserves the same on-screen and sound quality. It is well accepted that many theaters are not interested enough to get onto the screen what we put into it. The [audience] should not be robbed.”

As such, there were requirements that had to meet the approval of the filmmakers and distributor in order for a theater to be considered for booking the film. These included a theater’s seating capacity and screen size, as well as a city’s population and proximity to other cities. The minimum requirement, however, to book THE SOUND OF MUSIC as a roadshow, at least initially, was that a venue needed to be equipped with a stereophonic sound system. Fox released the film for roadshow bookings in both 70mm six-track stereo and 35mm four-track stereo formats (and, later, in conventional 35mm-monaural for general-release bookings). If a theater was not equipped for stereo presentations (and most theaters at the time were not so equipped), then that theater/city would have been ineligible to book the film as an exclusive reserved-seat engagement and instead would have had to wait until its general release to play the film. In many cases this meant a city had to wait more than two years to play the film.

SNEAK-PREVIEW TEST SCREENINGS

As is customary in the film industry, THE SOUND OF MUSIC was screened in a near-completed state for the purpose of gauging an audience’s reaction, which, in turn, influenced final tweaks and adjustments made prior to the film’s media/press screenings, its March 2 world premiere and subsequent release to the general public. Two “Middle America” cities were chosen to screen the film in a cryptically-promoted sneak preview.

01.15.1965 … Minneapolis, MN — Mann
01.16.1965 … Tulsa, OK — Brook

THE RESERVED-SEAT “ROADSHOW” ENGAGEMENTS (UNITED STATES & CANADA)

This list is a work-in-progress. The known engagements have been arranged chronologically by date of premiere.

The duration for some of the engagements has been provided. This data, measured in weeks, provides the reader with insight into just how insanely successful THE SOUND OF MUSIC was and offers a striking contrast to contemporary moviegoing.

Duration data marked with “+ moveover” indicates an engagement was relocated to another cinema in the same market and continued on an exclusive, reserved-seat basis. (The duration provided for any continuation/moveover run includes the duration of the moveover run plus the cumulative duration since the distributor considered it a continuation of the original booking.) Duration data marked with “+” indicates the total duration has not been confirmed but that it is known that the film played at least as long as the figure provided. Duration data marked with “+ RE” indicates the engagement returned for a second reserved-seat booking; such return runs are listed separately.

As a courtesy to those who may wish to read more about a particular theater, links have been included for those theaters where a dedicated page exists. And as a nudge to the frequent contributors to Cinema Treasures and its staff members, note the number of theaters for which there is no link (i.e. take note and help get pages created for these missing theaters).

Okay…enough with the introductory nonsense, let’s get on with the main attraction: THE LIST!

03.02.1965 … New York, NY — Rivoli (93 weeks)
03.10.1965 … Beverly Hills (Los Angeles), CA — Fox Wilshire (94 weeks + moveover)
03.10.1965 … Toronto, ON — Eglinton (146 weeks)
03.17.1965 … Boston, MA — Gary (83 weeks)
03.17.1965 … Chicago, IL — Michael Todd (93 weeks)
03.17.1965 … Detroit, MI — Madison (98 weeks)
03.17.1965 … Miami Beach, FL — Colony (82 weeks)
03.17.1965 … Philadelphia, PA — Midtown (93 weeks)
03.17.1965 … Vancouver, BC — Ridge (99 weeks + moveover)
03.17.1965 … Washington, DC — Ontario (97 weeks)
03.18.1965 … Montreal, QC — Seville (98 weeks + moveover)
03.18.1965 … San Francisco, CA — United Artists (93 weeks)
03.24.1965 … Atlanta, GA — Martin Cinerama (90 weeks)
03.24.1965 … Baltimore, MD — New (91 weeks)
03.24.1965 … Cleveland, OH — Ohio (91 weeks)
03.24.1965 … Dallas, TX — Inwood (91 weeks)
03.24.1965 … Denver, CO — Aladdin (112 weeks)
03.24.1965 … Milwaukee, WI — Strand (97 weeks)
03.24.1965 … Minneapolis, MN — Mann (95 weeks)
03.24.1965 … Salt Lake City, UT — Utah (95 weeks)
03.24.1965 … Warwick (Providence), RI — Warwick (86 weeks)
03.31.1965 … Buffalo, NY — Teck (79 weeks)
03.31.1965 … Calgary, AB — Odeon (72 weeks)
03.31.1965 … Charlotte, NC — Carolina (79 weeks)
03.31.1965 … Cincinnati, OH — International 70 (79 weeks)
03.31.1965 … Edmonton, AB — Varscona (114 weeks)
03.31.1965 … Honolulu, HI — Kuhio (81 weeks)
03.31.1965 … Houston, TX — Alabama (90 weeks)
03.31.1965 … Indianapolis, IN — Lyric (94 weeks)
03.31.1965 … Phoenix, AZ — Vista (115 weeks)
03.31.1965 … Richmond, VA — Willow Lawn (86 weeks)
03.31.1965 … St. Louis, MO — St. Louis (83 weeks)
03.31.1965 … San Diego, CA — Loma (133 weeks)
03.31.1965 … Seattle, WA — 5th Avenue (117 weeks)

04.01.1965 … Winnipeg, MB — Kings (88 weeks)
04.06.1965 … Tulsa, OK — Brook (79 weeks)
04.07.1965 … Columbus, OH — Northland (84 weeks)
04.07.1965 … Dayton, OH — Dabel (105 weeks)
04.07.1965 … Des Moines, IA — Capri (113 weeks)
04.07.1965 … Jacksonville, FL — 5 Points (31 weeks)
04.07.1965 … Louisville, KY — Rialto (64 weeks + moveover)
04.07.1965 … Memphis, TN — Paramount (79 weeks)
04.07.1965 … Norfolk, VA — Riverview (115 weeks)
04.07.1965 … Oklahoma City, OK — Tower (82 weeks)
04.07.1965 … Omaha, NE — Dundee (118 weeks)
04.07.1965 … Pittsburgh, PA — Nixon (106 weeks)
04.07.1965 … Portland, OR — Fox (116 weeks)
04.07.1965 … San Antonio, TX — North Star Mall Cinema I & II (82 weeks)
04.07.1965 … Tampa, FL — Palace (77 weeks)
04.15.1965 … Orlando, FL — Beacham (60 weeks)
04.15.1965 … Rochester, NY — Monroe (85 weeks)

05.27.1965 … Atlantic City, NJ — Virginia (79 weeks)
05.27.1965 … Fort Worth, TX — Palace (21 weeks)
05.28.1965 … DeWitt (Syracuse), NY — Shoppingtown (76 weeks)

06.19.1965 … Albany, NY — Hellman (30 weeks + RE)
06.23.1965 … Akron, OH — Village (91 weeks)
06.23.1965 … Asbury Park, NJ — Paramount (52+ weeks)
06.23.1965 … Hamden (New Haven), CT — Cinemart (73 weeks)
06.23.1965 … Nashville, TN — Belle Meade (69 weeks)
06.23.1965 … Scranton, PA — West Side (53 weeks)
06.23.1965 … Shrewsbury (Worcester), MA — White City (53 weeks)
06.23.1965 … Syosset, NY — Syosset (78 weeks)
06.23.1965 … Toledo, OH — Princess 70 (91 weeks)
06.23.1965 … Upper Montclair, NJ — Bellevue (100 weeks)
06.23.1965 … West Hartford, CT — Elm (77 weeks)
06.23.1965 … Youngstown, OH — State (51 weeks)
06.30.1965 … London, ON — Hyland (73 weeks)
06.30.1965 … Ottawa, ON — Nelson (55 weeks)
06.30.1965 … Sudbury, ON — Century (14 weeks)

07.07.1965 … Columbia, SC — Carolina (22 weeks)
07.14.1965 … Harrisburg, PA — Eric (68 weeks + RE)
07.14.1965 … Kansas City, MO — Midland (75 weeks)
07.16.1965 … Chattanooga, TN — Brainerd Cinerama (26+ weeks)
07.21.1965 … Savannah, GA — Savannah (12+ weeks)
07.21.1965 … South Portland, ME — Maine Mall Cinema I & II (68 weeks)
07.21.1965 … Wichita, KS — Boulevard (49 weeks)
07.22.1965 … Birmingham, AL — Eastwood Mall (17 weeks)
07.22.1965 … Grand Rapids, MI — Midtown (71 weeks)

08.03.1965 … El Paso, TX — Pershing (17 weeks)
08.04.1965 … Albuquerque, NM — Sunshine (16 weeks)
08.04.1965 … Sioux City, IA — Cinema (47 weeks)
08.06.1965 … Cedar Rapids, IA — Times 70 (65 weeks)
08.06.1965 … Lexington, KY — Kentucky (16 weeks)
08.11.1965 … Greenville, SC — Carolina (15 weeks)
08.11.1965 … Raleigh, NC — Ambassador (61 weeks)
08.11.1965 … Winston-Salem, NC — Winston (44 weeks)
08.13.1965 … Columbus, GA — Beverly (13 weeks)
08.18.1965 … Erie, PA — Plaza (21 weeks)

09.22.1965 … Beaumont, TX — Liberty (14+ weeks)
09.22.1965 … Corpus Christi, TX — Tower (12 weeks)
09.22.1965 … Eugene, OR — Fox (26 weeks)
09.22.1965 … Knoxville, TN — Park (40 weeks)
09.22.1965 … Little Rock, AR — Capitol (13 weeks)
09.22.1965 … Sacramento, CA — Crest (59 weeks)
09.22.1965 … Spokane, WA — State (54 weeks)
09.23.1965 … Augusta, GA — Daniel Village (19 weeks)
09.23.1965 … Macon, GA — Grand (14 weeks)
09.29.1965 … Tucson, AZ — Catalina (45 weeks)

10.06.1965 … Fall River, MA — Durfee (26+ weeks)
10.06.1965 … West Springfield, MA — Showcase Cinemas (36 weeks)
10.14.1965 … Las Vegas, NV — Fox (24 weeks)
10.20.1965 … Moorhead (Fargo, ND), MN — Moorhead (53 weeks)
10.20.1965 … New Orleans, LA — Orleans (56 weeks)
10.27.1965 … Hamilton, ON — Century (38 weeks)
10.27.1965 … Springfield, IL — Lincoln (23 weeks)
10.28.1965 … Charleston, SC — Riviera (12+ weeks)
10.28.1965 … Fort Wayne, IN — Jefferson (52+ weeks)
10.29.1965 … Evansville, IN — Washington (26+ weeks)

11.03.1965 … Fitchburg, MA — Saxon (16 weeks)
11.10.1965 … Davenport, IA — Coronet (74 weeks)

12.23.1965 … Colorado Springs, CO — Cooper 70 (40 weeks)
12.24.1965 … Austin, TX — Varsity (22 weeks)
12.25.1965 … Allentown, PA — Boyd (45 weeks)
12.25.1965 … Binghamton, NY — Capri
12.25.1965 … Boise, ID — Ada (11 weeks)
12.25.1965 … Canton, OH — Palace (42 weeks)
12.25.1965 … Champaign, IL — Co-Ed Twin (26 weeks)
12.25.1965 … Fresno, CA — Warner (33 weeks)
12.25.1965 … Green Bay, WI — West (26+ weeks)
12.25.1965 … Jacksonville, NC — Iwo Jima (12+ weeks)
12.25.1965 … Lubbock, TX — Village (41 weeks)
12.25.1965 … Lynchburg, VA — Warner
12.25.1965 … Manchester, NH — Strand (27 weeks)
12.25.1965 … Montgomery, AL — Empire
12.25.1965 … Newport News, VA — Newmarket (30+ weeks)
12.25.1965 … Reno, NV — Crest (19 weeks)
12.25.1965 … Roanoke, VA — Grandin
12.25.1965 … Shreveport, LA — Broadmoor (35 weeks)
12.25.1965 … Sioux Falls, SD — Cinema (44 weeks)
12.25.1965 … Utica, NY — Uptown (26 weeks)
12.25.1965 … Williamsport, PA — Rialto (26+ weeks)

01.19.1966 … Madison, WI — Hilldale (39 weeks)
01.21.1966 … Palm Beach, FL — Paramount (20 weeks)
01.26.1966 … Mobile, AL — Loop (25 weeks)
01.28.1966 … Bristol, TN — Paramount (17 weeks)

02.02.1966 … Cocoa Beach, FL — Fine Arts (26+ weeks)
02.02.1966 … Reading, PA — Fox (41 weeks)
02.02.1966 … Tallahassee, FL — State
02.04.1966 … Daytona Beach, FL — Beach (16 weeks)
02.09.1966 … Quebec, QC — Cinema Sainte-Foy Salle Alouette (43 weeks)
02.11.1966 … Wheeling, WV — Victoria (20 weeks)
02.16.1966 … Lawrence, MA — Showcase Cinemas (36 weeks)
02.18.1966 … Halifax, NS — Paramount (19 weeks)
02.18.1966 … Tuscaloosa, AL — Capri (15 weeks)
02.23.1966 … Charleston, WV — Capitol (17 weeks)
02.23.1966 … Huntington, WV — Orpheum (18 weeks)
02.24.1966 … Kingston, ON — Hyland (13 weeks)

03.03.1966 … Flint, MI — Palace (17 weeks)
03.03.1966 … Kalamazoo, MI — Capitol (16 weeks)
03.03.1966 … Lansing, MI — Gladmer (16 weeks)
03.18.1966 … Victoria, BC — Odeon (24 weeks)
03.23.1966 … Billings, MT — Babcock (27 weeks)
03.23.1966 … Jackson, MS — Paramount (12 weeks)
03.24.1966 … Amarillo, TX — Esquire (17 weeks)
03.24.1966 … Harlingen, TX — Rialto (12 weeks)
03.24.1966 … Tyler, TX — Arcadia (14 weeks)
03.30.1966 … Great Falls, MT — Civic Center
03.30.1966 … New London, CT — Capitol
03.30.1966 … St. Joseph, MO — Fox East Hills (13 weeks)
03.30.1966 … Springfield, MO — Gillioz (13 weeks)
03.30.1966 … State College, PA — Nittany (10 weeks)
03.30.1966 … Topeka, KS — Grand (13 weeks)
03.31.1966 … Waco, TX — 25th Street (10 weeks)

04.06.1966 … Charlottesville, VA — University
04.06.1966 … Yakima, WA — Yakima (19 weeks)
04.07.1966 … Baton Rouge, LA — Paramount
04.07.1966 … Monroe, LA — Eastgate
04.07.1966 … Quincy, IL — State (10 weeks)
04.07.1966 … Spartanburg, SC — Palmetto (14 weeks)
04.07.1966 … Waterloo (Kitchener), ON — Waterloo (22 weeks)
04.08.1966 … Rockford, IL — Times (25 weeks)
04.14.1966 … Wichita Falls, TX — State (10 weeks)
04.21.1966 … Abilene, TX — Queen (14 weeks)

05.25.1966 … Albany, NY — Hellman (RE, 9 weeks)
05.25.1966 … Wildwood, NJ — Ocean (19 weeks)
05.27.1966 … Myrtle Beach, SC — Gloria (17 weeks)

06.15.1966 … Duluth, MN — Duluth
06.15.1966 … Grand Forks, ND — Forx
06.22.1966 … Columbia, MO — Cinema (15 weeks)
06.22.1966 … Lancaster, PA — Fulton (16+ weeks)
06.23.1966 … Dubuque, IA — Strand (12+ weeks)
06.29.1966 … Brockton, MA — Westgate Mall Cinema I & II (26+ weeks)
06.29.1966 … Hyannis, MA — Center (14 weeks)
06.29.1966 … Louisville, KY — Penthouse (cont. from Rialto, 15 [79] weeks)
06.30.1966 … Lethbridge, AB — Paramount (11 weeks)
06.30.1966 … Fort William (Thunder Bay), ON — Capitol (11 weeks)

07.01.1966 … Peoria, IL — Beverly (23 weeks)
07.12.1966 … San Jose, CA — Century 22 (67 weeks)
07.27.1966 … Altoona, PA — Capitol (12 weeks)
07.27.1966 … South Bend, IN — River Park

08.31.1966 … Fairless Hills (Trenton, NJ), PA — Eric (28 weeks)

09.21.1966 … Anchorage, AK — Fireweed (12 weeks)
09.21.1966 … Brandon, MB — Strand (4 weeks)
09.21.1966 … Oakland, CA — Roxie (35 weeks)
09.21.1966 … Regina, SK — Capitol (16 weeks)
09.21.1966 … Stockton, CA — Ritz (18 weeks)
09.22.1966 … Belleville, ON — Belle (7 weeks)
09.22.1966 … Brantford, ON — Odeon (6 weeks)
09.22.1966 … Moncton, NB — Paramount (6 weeks)
09.22.1966 … North Bay, ON — Capitol (5 weeks)
09.22.1966 … Peterborough, ON — Paramount (10 weeks)
09.22.1966 … Prince George, BC — Parkwood (4 weeks)
09.22.1966 … Sarnia, ON — Odeon (10 weeks)
09.22.1966 … Sault Ste. Marie, ON — Algoma (5 weeks)

10.05.1966 … Monterey, CA — Steinbeck (25 weeks)
10.05.1966 … Wilmington, DE — Cinema 141 (41 weeks)
10.12.1966 … Burlington, VT — State
10.12.1966 … Wilkes-Barre, PA — Gateway
10.13.1966 … Cornwall, ON — Capitol (4 weeks)
10.20.1966 … Brockville, ON — Capitol (5 weeks)
10.20.1966 … Timmins, ON — Victory (4 weeks)
10.20.1966 … Windsor, ON — Park (22 weeks)
10.26.1966 … Boston, MA — Paris (13 weeks)
10.26.1966 … Chelmsford, MA — Route 3 Twin (11 weeks)
10.26.1966 … Maynard, MA — Fine Arts

11.02.1966 … Ellisville (St. Louis), MO — Ellisville (16 weeks)
11.02.1966 … Moline Acres (St. Louis), MO — Lewis & Clark (12 weeks)

12.21.1966 … Fredericksburg, VA — Victoria (11 weeks)
12.21.1966 … Harrisburg, PA — Eric (RE, 8 weeks)
12.21.1966 … Lebanon, PA — Colonial (8 weeks)
12.21.1966 … Lewistown, PA — Embassy
12.21.1966 … Petersburg, VA — Bluebird (6 weeks)
12.21.1966 … Trumbull, CT — United Artists (26 weeks)
12.21.1966 … Waynesboro, VA — Wayne
12.23.1966 … Gainesville, FL — Florida
12.23.1966 … Guelph, ON — Palace (4 weeks)
12.23.1966 … Hickory, NC — Carolina
12.23.1966 … Niagara Falls, ON — Seneca (7 weeks)
12.23.1966 … Pointe-Claire, QC — Fairview Twin (16 weeks)
12.23.1966 … St. Catharines, ON — Pen Centre Twin (15 weeks)
12.23.1966 … Saskatoon, SK — Paramount (18 weeks)
12.23.1966 … Tacoma, WA — Temple
12.25.1966 … Los Angeles, CA — Carthay Circle (cont. from Fox Wilshire, 23 [117] weeks)
12.26.1966 … Medicine Hat, AB — Monarch (6 weeks)
12.26.1966 … Prince Rupert, BC — Totem (4 weeks)
12.26.1966 … Saint John, NB — Paramount
12.28.1966 … St. John’s, NF — Capitol (7 weeks)
12.29.1966 … Red Deer, AB — Paramount (4 weeks + moveover)

01.12.1967 … Oshawa, ON — Regent (8 weeks)
01.13.1967 … Durham, NC — Center
01.13.1967 … Wilmington, NC — Manor
01.18.1967 … Kamloops, BC — Paramount (6 weeks)
01.26.1967 … Lacombe (Red Deer), AB — Lux (cont. from Paramount, 4 [8] weeks)

02.01.1967 … Montreal, QC — York (cont. from Seville, 7 [105] weeks + moveover)
02.08.1967 … West Vancouver, BC — Park Royal (cont. from Ridge, 11 [110] weeks)

03.23.1967 … Montreal, QC — Versailles (cont. from York, 7 [112] weeks)

THE RESERVED-SEAT “ROADSHOW” ENGAGEMENTS (INTERNATIONAL)

03.29.1965 … London, England, UK — Dominion (170 weeks)

04.09.1965 … Auckland, New Zealand — Plaza (52+ weeks)
04.15.1965 … Bournemouth, England, UK — Odeon (52+ weeks)
04.15.1965 … Brighton, England, UK — Regent (52+ weeks)
04.15.1965 … Christchurch, New Zealand — State (52+ weeks)
04.15.1965 … Manchester, England, UK — Gaumont (104+ weeks)
04.16.1965 … Glasgow, Scotland, UK — Gaumont (140 weeks)
04.17.1965 … Melbourne, Australia — Paris (140 weeks + moveover)
04.17.1965 … Sydney, Australia — Mayfair (140 weeks + moveover)
04.18.1965 … Birmingham, England, UK — Gaumont (104+ weeks)
04.18.1965 … Blackpool, England, UK — Palladium (46 weeks)
04.18.1965 … Bristol, England, UK — Odeon (52+ weeks)
04.18.1965 … Cardiff, Wales, UK — Capitol (104+ weeks)
04.18.1965 … Edinburgh, Scotland, UK — Odeon (52+ weeks)
04.18.1965 … Leeds, England, UK — Majestic (130 weeks)
04.18.1965 … Newcastle, England, UK — Queens (140 weeks)
04.18.1965 … Southampton, England, UK — Odeon (52+ weeks)

05.20.1965 … Buenos Aires, Argentina — Ambassador (96 weeks)
05.26.1965 … San Juan, Puerto Rico — Metropolitan (44 weeks)

06.11.1965 … Tokyo, Japan — Piccadilly (20 weeks)
06.16.1965 … Nairobi, Kenya — 20th Century (3 weeks)
06.??.1965 … Johannesburg, South Africa — Fine Arts (26+ weeks)
06.??.1965 … Lima, Peru — ?
06.??.1965 … Liverpool, England, UK — Odeon (52+ weeks)
06.??.1965 … Osaka, Japan — Namba Dai Gekijo (12+ weeks)

07.06.1965 … Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — Palacio (44 weeks)
07.12.1965 … Nottingham, England, UK — Odeon (52+ weeks)
07.12.1965 … Sao Paulo, Brazil — Rivoli (39 weeks)
07.14.1965 … Manila, Philippines — Ever (37 weeks)
07.20.1965 … Bloemfontein, South Africa — Ritz
07.26.1965 … Porto Alegre, Brazil — Marrocas (21+ weeks)
07.28.1965 … Brisbane, Australia — Paris (52+ weeks)
07.??.1965 … Hong Kong — ?
07.??.1965 … Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — ?
07.??.1965 … Port of Spain, Trinidad — De Luxe (26+ weeks)
07.??.1965 … Singapore — ?

08.06.1965 … Dunedin, New Zealand — Octagon (20+ weeks)
08.12.1965 … Kampala, Uganda — Norman (2 weeks)
08.16.1965 … Cape Town, South Africa — Van Riebeeck (26+ weeks)
08.18.1965 … Perth, Australia — Paris (52+ weeks)

09.03.1965 … Tel Aviv, Israel — Peer (25 weeks)
09.07.1965 … Santiago, Chile — Ducal (40 weeks)
09.09.1965 … Caracas, Venezuela — Florida (48 weeks)
09.21.1965 … Belo Horizonte, Brazil — Guarani
09.26.1965 … Leicester, England, UK — Odeon

10.04.1965 … Sheffield, England, UK — Odeon (52+ weeks)
10.29.1965 … Bangkok, Thailand — Krung Kasem (20 weeks)
10.??.1965 … Curitiba, Brazil — Maraba
10.??.1965 … Pretoria, South Africa — 20th Century

11.05.1965 … Napier, New Zealand — State
11.18.1965 … Mexico City, Mexico — Manacar (65 weeks)
11.??.1965 … Alagoinhas, Brazil — Azi
11.??.1965 … Durban, South Africa — Colosseum
11.??.1965 … East London, South Africa — 20th Century
11.??.1965 … Hastings, New Zealand — State

12.09.1965 … Stockholm, Sweden — Ritz
12.17.1965 … Helsinki, Finland — ?
12.17.1965 … Wellington, New Zealand — Kings (41 weeks)
12.17.1965 … Zurich, Switzerland — Corso (6 weeks)
12.20.1965 … Barcelona, Spain — Aribau
12.20.1965 … Copenhagen, Denmark — Imperial (24 weeks)
12.20.1965 … Madrid, Spain — Amaya
12.22.1965 … Rotterdam, Netherlands — Corso
12.23.1965 … Antwerp, Belgium — Rubens (12 weeks)
12.23.1965 … Bombay (Mumbai), India — Regal (47 weeks)
12.23.1965 … Brussels, Belgium — Varietes
12.25.1965 … Frankfurt, West Germany — Metro (2 weeks)
12.25.1965 … West Berlin, West Germany — Royal
12.30.1965 … Bogota, Colombia — Palermo
12.30.1965 … Milan, Italy — Cavour

01.10.1966 … Lisbon, Portugal — Roma
01.10.1966 … Lisbon, Portugal — Tivoli (44 weeks)

02.17.1966 … Adelaide, Australia — Paris (119 weeks)
02.18.1966 … Paris, France — Cameo (8 weeks)
02.18.1966 … Paris, France — Ermitage (8 weeks)

04.07.1966 … Oslo, Norway — ?

05.20.1966 … Dublin, Ireland — Cinerama (91 weeks)
05.20.1966 … Munich, West Germany — City (3 weeks)

06.29.1966 … San Jose, Costa Rica — Raventos
06.??.1966 … Monterrey, Mexico — ?
06.??.1966 … Oxford, England, UK — ?
06.??.1966 … Taipei, Taiwan — Great World (16 weeks)

07.03.1966 … Norwich, England, UK — Gaumont (32 weeks)
07.11.1966 … Alexandria, Egypt — Amir (15 weeks)

10.24.1966 … Cairo, Egypt — Cairo Palace (23 weeks)

11.??.1966 … Madras, India — Safire (20 weeks)

12.22.1966 … Delhi, India — Odeon (17 weeks)

12.20.1967 … Sydney, Australia — Paris (cont. from Mayfair, 41 [181] weeks)
12.21.1967 … Melbourne, Australia — Esquire (cont. from Paris, 38 [178] weeks)

THE SOUND OF…SOMETHING DIFFERENT (SELECTED INTERNATIONAL TITLES)
Dutch: “De Mooiste Muziek"
French: "La Melodie Du Bonheur"
German: "Meine Lieder Meine Träume"
Greek: "E Meloudia Tees Efti Hias"
Israeli: "Tze-leh Ha-musica"
Italian: "Tutti Insieme Appassionatamente"
Portuguese (Brazil): "A Novica Rebelde"
Portuguese (Portugal): "Musica No Coracao"
Spanish (Latin America): "La Novicia Rebelde"
Spanish (Spain): "Sonrisas Y Lagrimas”

LITERAL TRANSLATION OF SELECTED INTERNATIONAL TITLES
Chinese: “Fairy Music Blow Fragrant Place, Place Hear"
Dutch: "The Most Beautiful Music"
Egyptian: "Love And Tenderness"
French: "The Melody Of Happiness"
German: "My Songs My Dreams"
Greek: "The Melody Of Happiness"
Israeli: "The Sound Of Music"
Italian: "All Together With Passion"
Portuguese (Brazil): "The Rebellious Novice"
Portuguese (Portugal): "Music Of The Heart"
Spanish (Latin America): "The Rebellious Novice"
Spanish (Spain): "Smiles And Tears"
Thai: "Charms Of The Heaven Sound”

THE “SPECIAL SELECTIVE” AND “GENERAL RELEASE” ENGAGEMENTS (UNITED STATES & CANADA)

The music (and the money coming in) didn’t end with the roadshow release. Beginning in late-1966/early-1967 in the U.S. and Canada, THE SOUND OF MUSIC was put into a “Special Selective Engagement” release, which was, essentially, a modified roadshow in that the bookings were area exclusives with reserved performances, scheduled showtimes, and higher-than-normal admission prices. The distinction between this release and the original roadshow release is that seats, in most situations, were not reserved. It was at this stage that most small and mid-sized cities that did not run the film on a reserved-seat basis first played the film. It was also during this time that large cities began their first of numerous return engagements. The majority of these engagements were shown in 35mm, although it is unclear if Fox’s mandatory stereophonic sound policy was still in effect or if souvenir roadshow program booklets were offered for sale.

The “General” release (“Continuous Performances at Popular Prices”) followed the “Special Selective” release in mid-to-late 1967, depending on the market, and it wasn’t until 1968 that many tiny towns played the film for the first time. Gradually, the film would be booked into virtually every city with a movie theater, and the film remained in circulation through the summer of 1969, at which time several theaters ran a “Farewell” engagement.

Ultimately, THE SOUND OF MUSIC played over 9,000 engagements during its record run of four and a half years and concluded its run number one on the all-time box-office list.

CONCLUSION

Many box-office records and trivia were established during the phenomenally successful run of THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Among the unique items: (1) THE SOUND OF MUSIC became the first motion picture to gross $100 million (a feat journalists and historians frequently attribute mistakenly to 1975’s JAWS), (2) domestically more than 75 engagements ran in excess of one year, (3) a dozen domestic engagements ran in excess of two years, (4) in numerous situations, the number of tickets sold for a given theater exceeded the population of the city in which the theater was located, suggesting strong repeat business and people traveling from other cities to see the film, (5) the film performed so well in coastal resort areas (such as Atlantic City) that theaters stayed open year-round whereas they customarily closed during the winter, (6) during the summer of 1966, only a year and a half after its premiere and several months prior to beginning a general nationwide release, THE SOUND OF MUSIC surpassed GONE WITH THE WIND to become the industry’s top-grossing motion picture, and (7) the film played for so long in some theaters that protests took place by angry moviegoers complaining they were prevented from seeing other newer films.

As successful as THE SOUND OF MUSIC was in North America, the film was even more successful internationally, particularly in Australia and the United Kingdom, where engagements of two and even three years in their principal cities were the norm. As an (extreme) example of the film’s appeal, there were well-publicized reports of moviegoers seeing the film over 100 times, including a woman in Cardiff, Wales who saw it over 900 times!

In only a handful of countries could THE SOUND OF MUSIC be considered a flop. In Germany, for obvious reasons, the film was greeted coldly. In fact, for the Munich engagement, many of the scenes featuring the Nazis were removed by the local exhibitor (without the approval of the filmmakers or studio) rendering much of the film incoherent. As well, it under-performed in France and Switzerland and in parts of central Africa. And the film did not even play first-run in Austria despite having been filmed there.

THE SOUND OF MUSIC, in North America, was officially re-released during 1973 and 1978 and in a limited 25th anniversary re-release during 1990. The film’s network television debut broadcast was in 1976, and its first home video release was in 1979. In recent years “Sing-A-Long” presentations have become popular. In 2001, the film was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. In 2003, for special screenings, Fox ordered new prints struck featuring for the first time a digital soundtrack. The film recently underwent a restoration and is scheduled to be released later this year for the first time on Blu-ray Disc.

In the decades since its release, the amazing box-office performance of THE SOUND OF MUSIC has been surpassed by 167 films. However, adjusted for inflation, THE SOUND OF MUSIC ranks number three all-time behind only STAR WARS and GONE WITH THE WIND. So, whether you adore or loathe THE SOUND OF MUSIC, or are simply indifferent, there’s no question the film was an unqualified success, the likes the industry had never seen and one that foreshadowed the blockbuster era.

REFERENCES

Primary references for this project were hundreds of daily newspapers archived on microfilm. General references include the books THE SOUND OF MUSIC: THE MAKING OF AMERICA’S FAVORITE MOVIE by Julia Antopol Hirsch (1993, Contemporary Books) and GEORGE LUCAS’S BLOCKBUSTING: A DECADE-BY-DECADE SURVEY OF TIMELESS MOVIES INCLUDING UNTOLD SECRETS OF THEIR FINANCIAL AND CULTURAL SUCCESS edited by Alex Ben Block and Lucy Autrey Wilson (2010, George Lucas Books/HarperCollins), the website BoxOfficeMojo, and THE SOUND OF MUSIC coverage in trade publications Boxoffice, The Film Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Motion Picture Herald, Motion Picture Exhibitor, Movie Marketing, and Variety.

Research was conducted at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC; Die Deutsche Bibliothek, Frankfurt, Germany; Young Research Library (University of California Los Angeles); Southern Regional Library Facility (University of California Los Angeles); Margaret Herrick Library (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Fairbanks Center for Motion Picture Study), Beverly Hills, CA; Main Library (University of Illinois), Urbana, IL; as well as at several public libraries throughout the world.

Canadian engagement details researched and contributed by Bill Kretzel.

Special Thanks: Jerry Alexander, Marilyn Arnold, Serge Bosschaerts, Deborah Bryan, Mary Piero Carey, Evans Criswell, Anthony Cutts, Nick DiMaggio, Peter Fraser, Carlos Fresnedo, Jarrell Greever, Jean-Pierre Gutzeit, Dr. Sheldon Hall, Thomas Hauerslev, William Hooper, Bill Huelbig, Bill Kretzel, Paul Linfesty, Gabriel Neeb, Jim Perry, Dr. Jochen Rudschies, Barbara Shatara, Grant Smith, Carol ‘Stash’ Stanley, Bob Throop, Ashley Ward. As well, the author extends a special thank-you to the many librarians who were of assistance throughout this project.


You are invited to share any thoughts you may have pertaining to this article or memories you have of seeing THE SOUND OF MUSIC.

Theaters in this post

Comments (63)

PeterApruzzese
PeterApruzzese on March 2, 2010 at 6:57 am

Fascinating article Michael, thanks for writing it. Somewhere in my house I have a foot-long chunk of a 70mm print of SoM, it was given to me by a projectionist I worked with at the Cinema 46 in Totowa, NJ. The reel it came from was in the booth of the Cinema 46 and was from a print that ran at the Bellevue in Upper Montclair. If I recall his discussion about it, they had two prints over the 100 weeks it played there (he was the chief projectionist) and this reel was from the second print. He took it with him and used it as his 70mm set-up reel at the Cinema 46. It was bizarre to come in early one morning at Cinema 46 and see a faded reel from the film playing just prior to our 70mm engagement of Poltergiest there.

Mark_L
Mark_L on March 2, 2010 at 7:25 am

I didn’t see SOM first run (teenaged boys just didn’t go to see THAT film!), but I did see it in about 1978 at a small independent sub-run theatre. They had found a magnetic stereo print for a revival screening. BUT the opening of the film was missing, so they scrounged up a mono print of the opening shots right up until the moment when the singing starts. The film starts in mono then kicks into full, beautiful stereo. It was a great, if untentional effect.
Michael, the first 51 locations were 70mm. Do you have a breakdown on the remaining screenings as far as 35mm mag/70mm goes?

efriedmann
efriedmann on March 2, 2010 at 7:40 am

First time I ever saw it was on television on NBC. I generally don’t go for musicals.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on March 2, 2010 at 8:19 am

“The Sound of Music” came to my town in June 1967. I went to see it right away and loved it, but then my family had already been playing the soundtrack album for two years. It was a Special Selective Engagement, as described by Michael, in 35mm at the Rivoli Theater in Rutherford NJ.

I saw it one other time there, but I also came to resent it after a while. Being only 12 years old, that theater was practically my only source of movie entertainment. I could walk to it, and I went there almost every weekend. But I missed seeing a lot of 1967 releases because “The Sound of Music” played there for the entire
summer. Amazing how a movie that had already been showing continuously for more than two full years could still draw such a huge audience.

I finally got to see it in 70mm at the Gotham Cinema in NYC, in 1990.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on March 2, 2010 at 8:23 am

Here’s an ad for the 1967 engagement I described:

View link

terrywade
terrywade on March 2, 2010 at 9:34 am

This movie is a 70mm Todd Ao® treasure. How lucky many us were to see this film on a true curved Todd Ao® screen. In San Francisco they showed Sound Of Music on a flat screen unfortunately in 70mm at the United Artists. Now the UA theatre in SF is still open under a different name showing girly porn with a false ceiling to cover the huge balcony. How the times of Market St Theatres in SF have changed. From once showing a 70mm flat roadshow print of ‘Sound'now girls go down the runway and they probably have no clue the history of roadshow 70mm at the UA in San Francisco in the 60’s. The big Norelco 70mm projectors sit ideal today way up above the balcony. What a long throw and angle to show Julie Andrews in all It’s 70mm glory. To bad when ABC shows this film every year they play a pan & scan version in 16X9 and you miss all the sides of the 70mm print. I think ABC is afraid to run a scope print with black bars at the top and bottom. They will show the open titles in wide screen but go to full screen when the titles are over. Watch It in the new DVD version in full scope. I think some parts of the new Sound Of Music DVD are from the 65mm elements and the stereo surround sounds great in Dolby®. Thank you Mike for the 'Sound’ theatre listings.

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on March 2, 2010 at 9:51 am

i first saw this movie on vhs in a widescreen edition that was fit onto one tape during the mid-90’s. THX did the remastering for the film for its laserdisc, vhs, and eventually dvd release. The overture and intermission music was removed to save space on that one tape. What was weird about this movie was that the 20th century fox logo didn’t have the fanfare at the beginning, since the movie was set in a dark time in history. Could you imagine if Fox still used Cinemascope for Sound of Music? Would be pretty weird. To this day, The Sound of Music is the most popular standalone Fox movie of all time.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on March 2, 2010 at 10:30 am

Justin: the movie never had an overture, and I think the reason why is also the reason there was no Fox fanfare. The first thing you hear is the wind blowing over the snow-capped mountain tops. As the flying camera descends to a lower elevation, the music starts to come up very quietly, barely noticeable at first, slowly and gradually building up to the well-known chords leading into Julie singing the title song. Any other music played beforehand would’ve spoiled this unusual effect.

Some other big-budget Fox pictures from around this time did not use the fanfare either: “The Bible” and “The Agony and the Ecstasy”, for example. “Cleopatra”’s logo came on at the very end of Alex North’s spectacular overture. “Patton” had neither the fanfare or the logo, just that enormous, screen-filling U.S. flag.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on March 2, 2010 at 11:17 am

Just think what it must have been like to be at the Rivoli in New York City 45 years ago tonight! Thanks for reminding us Michael.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on March 2, 2010 at 11:38 am

Boy, Toronto is some movie town. 146 weeks. They also had a record-breaking run of “2001: A Space Odyssey”, 127 weeks. And it’s thanks to you, Michael, that I know this fact.

Maybe I should watch “The Sound of Music” on DVD tonight to commemmorate the date. Wish it was the Blu-Ray, though – more like a 70mm experience.

mhvbear
mhvbear on March 2, 2010 at 12:02 pm

07.21.1965 … South Portland, ME — Maine Mall Cinema I & II (68 weeks)

A correction on the engagement. The Sound of Music played at the CINEMA I & II in Westbrook for it reserved seat engagement. This was the theater that showed most of the exclusive reserved seat engagements in Maine. The Maine Mall Cinemas didn’t open until 1974. I don’t even think the Maine Mall was open then.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 2, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Sound of Music was a pain the butt movie to play. Granted I was about 17 when it come around about every fall in the middle 70’s and with all old ladies we were constanly having to adjust the termostat,It was TOO cold,it was to hot. The sound was not right. anyone that had to tear tickets did not want this booked in. Second runner up in the old ladies driving you crazy “GONE WITH THE WIND” if i never see either one again I will die a happy man.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 2, 2010 at 1:40 pm

It might have played 19 weeks in AUGUSTA,Ga. but the only place to see it in 70mm was NATIONAL HILLS,not Daniel VillageTheatre. I worked at National Hills.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 2, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Like Peter above i have a section of the movie in 70mm,Those projectionists have GOt to stop giving sections of film away.

Nunzienick
Nunzienick on March 2, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Great informative article! Thanks Michael. I’m one of those who fell in love with the film the first time I sat through it. I saw the roadshow version when it opened at Tampa’s Palace in 1965 and went back repeatedly for a total of seven times. And I still have the torn reserved seat ticket stubs.

The Palace ran the 35mm stereo format on the curved Cinerama screen which had been masked for 35mm scope. I also saw the 1973 re-release in 70mm and the image was stunningly sharp, clear, and larger. Amazingly after playing for more than a year the crowds were still linning up down the block.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on March 2, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Not listed above THE SOUND OF MUSIC played at THE CRESCENT THEATRE in Nashville,Tennessee for over a year.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 2, 2010 at 1:53 pm

TLSLOEWS,how could they forget NASHVILLE. Nick, I can’t find Dale Mabry Drive-in on CT.

telliott
telliott on March 2, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Nashville IS there, between Hamden and Scranton.

Cobalt
Cobalt on March 2, 2010 at 2:22 pm

tlsloews…Look over Mike’s list a bit harder. Nashville IS present (hint: it’s in the June 1965 section). And it didn’t play at Crescent, according to Mike’s research anyway; he cites Belle Meade as the theatre that had the Nashville roadshow.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on March 2, 2010 at 2:37 pm

My Sicilian grandmother spoke no English, but she went to see “The Sound of Music” in 1967. That movie broke down all cultural and language barriers.

MPol
MPol on March 2, 2010 at 2:42 pm

I saw “The Sound of Music” here in Boston when it first came out, shortly after I got home from summer camp up in Vermont. I enjoyed the film a lot, but, I didn’t appreciate it until I got much older, nor did I understand the story behind it. Since then, I’ve seen Sound of Music on TV afew times, and attended a singalong screening of TSOM. Although I’ve enjoyed TSOM very much, it doesn’t hold the same place in my heart regarding movies as WSS, plus I’ve got ambivalent feelings about the very story behind TSOM.

JSA
JSA on March 2, 2010 at 4:25 pm

This is one of my all-time favorite motion pictures.

I saw it a few times as a child. My first viewing was at the Metropolitan in San Juan PR. We saw also at a drive-in, and also in my grade school play area, where a small screen was rigged for a family night show. But my favorite recollection was during one of the re-issues during the early 70’s (1973?), again at the Metropolitan. My grandmother and I put on our Sunday’s best. It’s hard to imagine people dressing up for movies these days, but it was different back then. When we arrived, I was surprised to see a line for a movie that old. We had a ball. All the magic was there, coming alive in that wonderful wall-to-wall screen. Many, many years later, towards the end of her life, I visited her and brought a VHS of the movie, which, of course, made her day. She passed away shortly after that. Today, as I read over Michael’s excellent tribute to the film’s anniversary, I cannot help but feel a little bit emotional and nostalgic. I like to think that, every time I see it, she’s somehow there watching it with me.

Thanks Michael!

JSA

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on March 2, 2010 at 7:27 pm

I hope everyone stops for a moment and thinks about how much time and work Michael had to put into this interesting report!

What I remember after about 45 years??

New York, New York, Rivoli, Seems to me they had speakers on the roof of the marquee, that would continually play a recording of chimes/carillon playing the first 11 notes of “The hills are alive with the sound of music”.

Norfolk, Virginia, Riverview Theater, The movie right before THE SOUND OF MUSIC was HUSH…HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE with Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland, another Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, but a completely different kind of film. Black and white, 35mm, 1.66:1, Horror/Mystery/Thriller.
The preview for THE SOUND OF MUSIC just showed a film of a red curtain with words moving across the screen and music that is also used during the titles in the movie. No scenes from the movie were shown.

San Juan, Puerto Rico, Metropolitan, Before THE SOUND OF MUSIC came to Puerto Rico, ads in the Puerto Rico Newspapers, with no mention of THE SOUND OF MUSIC, asked the question who was Charmian Carr? and that she was coming to Puerto Rico. Charmian Carr is of course Liesl, in THE Sound OF MUSIC.

JohnHolloway
JohnHolloway on March 2, 2010 at 11:19 pm

Just as well opening weekend attendances weren’t considered the be-all and end-all as to a movies success or failure back in 1965. Despite much publicity for the 70mm premiere at the Paris theatre in Melbourne, the film opened very “soft”. It took about 3-4 weeks before word-of-mouth saw SOM become the biggest box-office hit of all time in Victoria. If such a situation arose today, it would be pulled after one week.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on March 3, 2010 at 5:36 am

One other good memory from “The Sound of Music”: it was the first and last time that my neighborhood theater sold souvenir programs for a movie in the lobby. I thought, “Hey! We finally hit the big time.” I wish I still had that program, but it got lost over the years.

KJB2012
KJB2012 on March 3, 2010 at 9:43 am

Great Job! Michael.

MPol
MPol on March 3, 2010 at 10:08 am

Are they going to do a national re-release of The Sound of Music, or at least a road-show, in various theatres throughout the country? Just curious. That would be cool if they did.

efriedmann
efriedmann on March 3, 2010 at 12:24 pm

THE SOUND OF MUSIC saved 20th Century Fox’s ass from the tragic disaster that was known as CLEOPATRA!

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on March 3, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Some additional thoughts on THE SOUND OF MUSIC.

On going through Michael’s list the record goes to

  1. 170 weeks, London, England, UK, Dominion Theater. THAT’S 3 YEARS AND OVER 3 MONTHS!

  2. 146 weeks Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Eglinton Theater. ALMOST 3 YEARS.

  3. 133 weeks San Diego, California, USA, Loma Theater. ANOTHER ALMOST 3 YEARS.

I wonder if a projectionist at the Doninion in London holds the record for running the movie the most times?

Some prints got run a record number of times in those Norelcos.

Vito: Seems to me the union required 2 in the booth for 70mm, is that true? What did a reel of 70mm weigh?

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on March 3, 2010 at 5:34 pm

Poor “Cleopatra”. Its cost was so astronomically high that it quickly got branded with the label “Flop”, even though it was the highest-grossing movie of 1963. On the adjusted-for-inflation list, it’s the 39th biggest grossing movie ever made:

36 Independence Day Fox $527,136,100 1996
37 Home Alone Fox $515,457,200 1990
38 Pinocchio Dis. $512,939,400 1940
39 Cleopatra Fox $511,266,100 1963
40 Beverly Hills Cop Par. $511,011,600 1984
41 Goldfinger UA $504,543,000 1964

And apart from all that, it’s a good movie, especially when seen on the big screen. Scenes like Cleopatra’s entry into Rome and the Battle of Actium (recreated with an actual fleet of full-size ships) are stunning spectacles. And the story is always engrossing. It’s a very fast-moving 4 hours and 13 minutes.

And now back to “The Sound of Music”, which is #3 on that same list:

1 Gone with the Wind MGM $1,537,559,600 1939
2 Star Wars Fox $1,355,490,100 1977
3 The Sound of Music Fox $1,083,781,000 1965
4 E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial Uni. $1,079,511,500 1982
5 The Ten Commandments Par. $996,910,000 1956
6 Titanic Par. $976,712,200 1997
7 Jaws Uni. $974,679,800 1975
8 Doctor Zhivago MGM $944,670,800 1965
9 The Exorcist WB $841,427,600 1973
10 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Dis. $829,490,000 1937

For the record, “Avatar” is #15 and still rising.

rlausche
rlausche on March 3, 2010 at 6:45 pm

Thanks for the fine artical on the Sound Of Music. There was no Cinemascope fanfare for the film because it was filmed in 70mm. It took 2 people to run all 70mm films in all theaters in those days. In the mid 70’s when platters where put in theaters they did not need the extra person. We had a lot of movies in the 60’s and 70 that ran 3 months or more. Those where the days that we had great movies, not what they release today.

raysson
raysson on March 4, 2010 at 9:16 am

To The Article:

I notice that in North Carolina that it played for 61 weeks at the Ambassador Theatre in Raleigh when it opened on August 11,1965 in its exclusive enagement run.

It also played in various theatres too: I notice that it also played at the Center in Durham on January 13,1967 as a exclusive enagement. FYI….The Center Theatre in Downtown Durham closed its doors in 1965 and moved to the suburbs at Lakewood Shopping Center in December of 1966. The Center at the time THE SOUND OF MUSIC played there was a single screen theatre and it was shown in stereophonic sound and widescreen too in full 70MM print when it opened on January 13,1967.

Also in March of 1967,it also ended up as a exclusive enagement showing during its run at the Carolina Theatre in Chapel Hill(when it was a single screen theatre with a seating capacity of over 1,145).

It was also re-released in 1973 as also an exclusive enagement run when it played at the Yorktowne Theatre in Durham and the Village Plaza in Chapel Hill. Not to mention was also re-released the following year as well when it played for a short-run at the Cardinal Theatre in Raleigh.

Coate
Coate on March 4, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Thanks, everyone, for the comments, corrections and compliments, and for sharing your memories.

<<< Michael, the first 51 locations were 70mm. Do you have a breakdown on the remaining screenings as far as 35mm mag/70mm goes? >>>

I believe most of them were 35mm. I prefer at this time not to clutter an already detail-heavy article with even more details. Email me if you wish to discuss this matter any further.

<<< It might have played 19 weeks in AUGUSTA,Ga. but the only place to see it in 70mm was NATIONAL HILLS,not Daniel VillageTheatre. >>>

The National Hills showed it during a re-release. I correctly cited the original roadshow run as being at Daniel Village. (And what makes you think Daniel Village wasn’t equipped for 70mm presentations?)

<<< The Palace ran the 35mm stereo format on the curved Cinerama screen which had been masked for 35mm scope. >>>

Something to consider… The reason the Palace masked down their screen may have been because they were honoring their Cinerama licensing agreement. Theaters that alternated between Cinerama and non-Cinerama bookings were encouraged to project onto a smaller screen area during non-Cinerama presentations, even when showing 70mm prints.

<<< Not listed above THE SOUND OF MUSIC played at THE CRESCENT THEATRE in Nashville,Tennessee for over a year. >>>

<<< TLSLOEWS,how could they forget NASHVILLE. >>>

I did not forget Nashville. As was pointed out by a couple other readers, Nashville is on the list (listed among the June 23, 1965 batch of bookings). Your recollection about the Crescent, though, prompted me to go back and pull my original notes and advertisement photocopies to verify I didn’t goof. Nope, I correctly listed it as Belle Meade. You’re misremembering it playing at Crescent.

<<< The Cinema 70 in Colorado Springs is listed on CT. >>>

No, it isn’t. The theater in Colorado Springs where “The Sound of Music” played was the Cooper 70, not the Cinema 70. Despite the “70” designation in their names, these were two different theaters located in different parts of town.

<<< I notice that it also played at the Center in Durham on January 13,1967 as a exclusive enagement. FYI….The Center Theatre in Downtown Durham closed its doors in 1965 and moved to the suburbs at Lakewood Shopping Center in December of 1966. >>>

Thanks. The entry on the list is right but it looks like I linked to the wrong theater.

<<< A correction on the [07.21.1965 … South Portland, ME — Maine Mall Cinema I & II (68 weeks)] engagement. The Sound of Music played at the CINEMA I & II in Westbrook for it reserved seat engagement. This was the theater that showed most of the exclusive reserved seat engagements in Maine. The Maine Mall Cinemas didn’t open until 1974. I don’t even think the Maine Mall was open then. >>>

Thanks very much for catching that.

These old GCC theaters with their stupid, generic “Cinema I & II” and “Cinema I-II-III” names can be a pain to research. Conversationally, most of those theaters had a name, usually that of the shopping plaza in which they were located. In the case of this Portland area booking, no such name appeared in the newspaper advertising. I was determined, for this project, to identify by its full (if only informal) name, but, apparently, was misled by a vague address in the ads and a lack of information here on Cinema Treasures (notice it wasn’t linked) and on a couple of other theater and GCC history sites. (I’m assuming that the theater in question was a GCC; maybe I’m wrong about that, too.)

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 4, 2010 at 6:54 pm

Dear Michael, I am from AUGUSTA and managed the only theatre in AUGUSTA that had 70mm and that was NATIONAL HILLS a heck of a better theatre than DANIEL VILLAGE.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 4, 2010 at 6:57 pm

And its still a pain the butt to work for ushers and doormen. You ever deal with old ladies that like musicals.

mhvbear
mhvbear on March 5, 2010 at 6:01 am

Mike the Westbrook Cinema I & II were not part of the GCC chain. They opened in early 1964. They might have been part of the Esquire Chain in Boston. One of the first attractions was My Fair Lady in Cinema I. Most of the roadshow engagements in Maine were at these theaters. In 1967 they added Cinema III whisch opened with the roadshow of Throughly Morden Millie. Not sure if they were equipped with 70mm. They also had what was called “shadow box screens” and no curtains.

AGRoura
AGRoura on March 5, 2010 at 6:44 am

Bob: I did the ads for SOM in PR and did not do any ad asking who Charmian Carr was. By the time she made her appearance at the theater the film had already played for many many weeks and everyone knew who she was. That night the theater was packed and everyone wanted to touch Charmian and get her autograph.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on March 5, 2010 at 3:06 pm

AGR: (A comment something like this is already under Cine Metropolitan)

“It’s a small World!” But good grief give me a little break, it’s been 44 years (the winter of 1966 is my guess)! I guess I messed up a little on the Charmain Carr story. At least I remember something about Liesl being in Puerto Rico. That I would remember that after all these years just shows your great PR skills. You should be proud, it almost makes you immortal!!!!!!

Cobalt
Cobalt on March 5, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Shadow Box and no curtains? Sure sounds like a General Cinema house to me.

StanMalone
StanMalone on March 5, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Thanks Michael for another one of your exercises in research. I have always enjoyed your efforts to list the movies that played in certain theatres and what theatres played some notable movies.

For me, SOM was one of those watershed movies that opened up a whole new area of interest, namely musicals, just like The Longest Day did for war movies and Doctor Zhivago did for historical drama. I can remember the day I first saw SOM like it was yesterday. I still have my reserved seat ticket stub from the Eastwood Mall Theatre in Birmingham with its SOM logo printed on it. The date has faded, but it was a Friday, October 13th I think, 1965. 2 PM showing. I was 13, and even in those days we had teacher work days, just not as many as they do now. My mother offered to take me out to lunch and then all the way out to Eastwood Mall to see the movie. Going to Eastwood, which was a long way on the other side of Birmingham in those pre expressway days, was always a treat since it was one of the first enclosed malls in the southeast.

I fell in love with everything about this movie that day. The beautiful picture, impressive locations, wonderful music, and an entertaining story really made it a day to remember. On the way home we picked my dad up at work, and I could not wait to tell him about my day. He did his parental duty and listened, then told me that he was happy I enjoyed the movie, but he would pass on it. O well. He was a Georgia Tech man who five years later would be paying for me to earn a liberal arts degree, so SOM was not the only thing we did not have in common. The next day, he did take me to the local Woolworths so I could buy the record, my first movie soundtrack. It still sits on my shelf to this day. Shortly after that was another first, a return visit to see the movie again. I remember seeing the same movie twice, but usually as the co feature at the drive in. This was the first time I returned to see a movie during the same engagement.

This was a great time to be starting an interest in movies. Titles such as the three I mentioned above plus Lawrence, Goldfinger, Thunderball, Man For All Seasons, Mary Poppins, and McLintock made movies hard to resist.

Like countless others, I have seen SOM many times over the years. In the late 60’s it made a final round of neighborhood theatres in Atlanta, where I was living by then, with the tag “Going Out Of Release Until 1973.” In late 1971, about the time I started working in theatres, there was word that Fox was hurting for money and was considering bringing SOM back a year early. However, French Connection bailed them out and the big reissue took place in April 1973. By this time, the Martin Cinerama in downtown Atlanta had been sold to the Walter Reade Org. and been renamed The Atlanta. This magnificent theatre with its 70MM Cinerama projectors, deeply curved screen, and plush appointments had run SOM in its premiere release for 90 weeks. In addition it had run 3 strip Brothers Grimm, HTWWW, and 70MM IAMMMMW and 2001, as well as musicals such as Thoroughly Modern Millie, Mary Poppins, Camelot, Fiddler On The Roof, Man Of La Mancha, and even Goodbye Mr. Chips. But times had changed and it was now preparing for a run of the third Ginger movie, Girls Are For Loving, to be followed by Super Fly TNT. Needless to say, SOM would not be returning to its Atlanta home.

Martins suburban Cinerama house, the Georgia Cinerama got the honor. Not as big or plush as the downtown theatre, it did have the 70MM projectors and curved Cinerama screen. They had a 12 week run of packed houses before the picture was pulled in July and sent on a wider “intermediate” break. By this time the thrill of The Atlanta had faded and I was working at the Sandy Springs Theatre which got one of the intermediate bookings. For five weeks I had the pleasure of seeing this show as much as I liked, and on slow nights would prop the auditorium doors open so I could listen along as I worked. I was sure sorry when it had to go to make room for that next big Fox hit, Neptune Factor.

Within five years the video revolution had begun, and one of the first movies I bought to play in my $1200 RCA Selectavision VCR was a pan and scan copy of SOM from that producer of incredibly fuzzy, grainy, movies, the Magnetic Video Corp. I swear the thing looked like it was filmed in 8MM aimed at a screen showing a 16MM print. However, thinking that this was the ultimate in technology, I was happy to have it.

In the early 80’s a 70MM print of SOM showed up at the Rhodes Theatre which in better days had premiered such hits as West Side Story, Lawrence of Arabia, and Sand Pebbles, to say nothing of Darling Lilly. As a payback for that great afternoon 16 years earlier, I took my mother to see it, and then again a couple of months later when the same print showed up as part of the Fox Theatre summer film series.

In 1984, I passed through Saltzburg Austria, and spent a day seeing all of the SOM sites. I was impressed with how compact the city is and how many of the buildings and landmarks from the movie can be seen from one spot. The magic of film angles and editing made the place look much bigger. Even more so, the church where the wedding scene was filmed was amazingly small. I have photographed many places where movies scenes have been filmed over the years, but the one that hangs on my wall is a picture of my mother standing in front of the fountain where Julie Andrews and the children were dancing, with the castle in the background.

In the 90’s I started working in the projection booth of the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, and twice have had the pleasure of running SOM. In fact, that is the only time I have run this picture as a projectionist. The last time, I had finished inspecting the film for the next day, and had the chance to relax and watch the last hour or so. Sitting on the window sill of the spotlight booth, looking out over a packed house of over 4000 people, it was impossible for me not to think back to that day about 30 years earlier when I first saw SOM and started a life long love affair with movies and theatres.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on March 5, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Thanks for sharing those memories with us, Stan. Posts like yours are the main reason why I love Cinema Treasures.

AGRoura
AGRoura on March 5, 2010 at 10:31 pm

Yes, Bob, but i wanted people on this page who don’t go into the Metropolitan page to know.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on March 6, 2010 at 2:47 am

StanMalone: That was really nice, I liked that!

Nunzienick
Nunzienick on March 7, 2010 at 1:28 am

Michael, Thanks for your “screen masking” explanation regarding the 1965 roadshow engagement at the Palace in Tampa. To this day I’ve wondered whether or not they were actually running a 70mm print. Although the screen had been masked I recall the film being projected from the Cinerama booth on the main level which would indicate it may have been 70mm. However, there was no mention of 70mm in the newspaper ads although Todd A-O does appear in the opening day ad. I assumed it was 35 due to the masking.

Here’s something else I could never figure out. After the first few months the film was no longer being projected from the Cinerama booth. It had been moved to the 35mm booth upstairs where it remained until the end of its run. And from this point on the soundtrack was no longer in stereo. Obviously they switched prints but why? If they were running a 70mm print then I would venture to guess the switch may have been monetary. Any other ideas?

AGRoura
AGRoura on March 7, 2010 at 6:35 am

At the Cinerama theater in San Juan, PR, regular wide screen 35mm films were shown in the center of the cinerama screen masked by the curtain. Scope and 70mm were shown on the full screen. 70mm looked better of course, sharper, but scope looked OK. First scope film we showed was Fantastic Voyage. Cinerama Inc. never told us to mask the screen for non-Cinerama pics. The theater did not have any masking anyway, just the curtain.

Nunzienick
Nunzienick on March 7, 2010 at 12:52 pm

AGR, That’s interesting. They used masking at the Palace although it was not automatic but was manually hung into place. For 70mm the full screen top to bottom was utilized less a few feet on either side where the masking was hung. 35mm scope was the same width as 70mm but the top portion of the screen was masked roughly 10-12 feet down. There was no masking at bottom since the screen sat on the raised floor. For 35mm standard projection the red curtains were used as masking and opened to the edges of the image.

AGRoura
AGRoura on March 7, 2010 at 1:32 pm

DiMaggio: One of our company’s VP was a former VP of Cinerama Inc. and he was the one who told our technical director which anamorphic lens to use so we could fill the entire cinerama screen with a scope film. I don’t know the specs of the lens, but if I remember correctly it was longer than the anamorphic lenses we used in our other theaters. For 35 standard wide we used similar lenses as in the other theaters.

StanMalone
StanMalone on March 11, 2010 at 11:28 am

Thanks Bill and Bob for the kind words. I always enjoy reading your posts on the Ziegfeld page. I got so engrossed in that discussion once that I made a trip to NYC to see one of the first Classic Series showings.

On the subject of the 70MM staffing question, I can only speak for the practice here in Atlanta. In the 60’s theatres with IATSE contracts had a choice of paying two operators for 70MM showings or pay time and a half for one man. This also applied to 35MM runs of reserved seat engagements. The last time I recall this coming into play was in April of 1973 at the Atlanta Theatre when they ran the 70MM reissue of This Is Cinerama. That was also the only time I ever saw the time and a half for one man option used.

Michael: I have a Birmingham note to add. Your research shows that SOM played at the Eastwood Mall for 17 weeks starting in July of 1965 which would take it up to around Thanksgiving. I recall that I saw it again at the downtown Ritz Theatre during Christmas holidays. I think this was just a filler until the Christmas attraction for the Ritz started. I do not recall it being a moveover since there was a break between the engagements. I described that showing in my post on the Ritz page: /theaters/9396/

I see your list did not mention this engagement. Do you think there were any runs of this nature during Christmas of 1965 which was prior to many cities getting a booking. I am pretty sure this was 1965 since I recall it being shortly after the Eastwood run ended. Of course I am going on my memory here, and you of all people know what can happen when I start doing that.

StanMalone
StanMalone on March 11, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Michael: One more note on my last comment. The more I think about it the more I think that I have the date wrong. No suprise there is it? (Bob, I feel your pain.)

I know the Ritz engagement of SOM started the day after the end of the run of Doctor Zhivago. I attended the final performance of Zhivago and remember the marquee and lobby posters were changed when the movie ended. That is how I found out about SOM starting there the next day. Since I had never heard of Zhivago until we watched the Academy Awards the night SOM won, that means that the SOM engagement at the Ritz had to have been Christmas of 1966.

That would still put it ahead of some initial engagements of some notable cities, but not as outrageous as I first thought. Maybe some day you could do an article on Doctor Zhivago. I have a whole boatload of stories about that one.

Coate
Coate on March 11, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Stan… The Ritz engagement you’re asking about began Dec. 23, 1966 (and ran 16 weeks). I didn’t list this run in the article because it wasn’t a reserved-seat engagement.

And thanks for posting your reminiscences! I always enjoy reading them.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on March 12, 2010 at 6:57 am

Stan: Those Krystal Burgers you described on the Ritz page sound like White Castles, which we have in the Northeast. I’m getting hungry just thinking about them.

StanMalone
StanMalone on March 12, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Thanks for that information Michael. Your research efforts never cease to amaze me. At least this time I caught my memory lapse before you had to point it out to me. This confirms to me that I saw Doctor Zhivago for the second time on the night of December 22, 1966, and then SOM the next afternoon.

This means that SOM played its reserved seat engagement for four months at the Eastwood Mall (not really that long compared to some of the engagements in comparable cities), left for 13 months, and then returned for four more months at the Ritz. This also means that it was the Christmas attraction at the Ritz that year. I hope they got another print quick as I can not imagine that one lasting for another four days much less four months.In all of my years of attending and working in movie theatres I have seen movies that looked worse, but never encountered anything like the breaks and delays of that SOM show, which is probably the reason I remember it so well.

The only time even close was when I was managing a theatre running Elephant Man with a defective print. The black and white emulsion started flaking off and jamming the gates to the point that by the end of the opening weekend, we were having 2 to 3 breaks a show. It got so bad that before the lights were dimmed I would make an announcement telling the sold out house what was going to happen and why. A few people took my advice to get a refund and try again the next weekend when we would have a new print, but most people were good natured about it. At least the projectionist was ready for trouble and we were back on screen quickly with minimum missing footage.

Bill: White Castle has made it as far south as Nashville, so I have tasted them. The only difference I could notice is that Krystal’s did not have holes and were, of course, much MUCH better. In those early to mid 60’s days, we would usually see a movie on Friday nights a couple of times a month. Usually as a family, but sometimes our parents would drop my older brother and me off at our movie and go see a more adult film at a different theatre. We would then meet at the Krystal when our movies were over. All of this was in about a 6 square block area, but now it is hard to imagine two boys ages 7 and 12 going to a downtown movie alone to say nothing of walking to the Krystal on a Friday night in downtown Birmingham, or anywhere else for that matter.

I guess movies were not the only things that were better about those days.

MPol
MPol on March 12, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Yup. I hear you, StanMalone. Times have changed, and not always for the better.

Cobalt
Cobalt on March 15, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Thanks, Mike, for another excellent article.

I know you are really good with the details, but I have to call you on the claim that SOUND OF MUSIC was the 1st to reach $100 million. I am among those who have always thought it was JAWS that was the 1st to reach $100 million, and here’s why:

Give the JAWS DVD a spin and you’ll see right there in the documentary, plain as day, “JAWS is the first movie to top $100 million.” They even show the grosses of the other films it topped and listed SOUND OF MUSIC with like $80-something million.

raysson
raysson on March 16, 2010 at 9:19 am

FYI:
If you think “Avatar” is climbing onto the list,then Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland has already passed the $200 million mark and still going. Was the Number One movie in America,three weeks in a row.

Coate
Coate on March 17, 2010 at 5:37 am

“Jaws” was NOT the first movie to gross $100 million. The figures cited in the “Jaws” documentary were rentals, not gross.

And for those who may not understand the difference, a rental is the percentage of the gross returned to the distributor based on agreed upon terms (usually a sliding scale but in general about 50-60%). Prior to “Entertainment Tonight” in the 1980s reporting weekend box-office performance as entertainment news, the rental was what typically was reported in trade publications.

It’s unfortunate, in some respects, that a film’s full gross is what is now reported, especially with our society’s obsession with box-office figures. When you think about it, the full gross is a useless figure because one cannot determine profit from that figure. Just like when one runs a business, to determine profit one must subtract expenses from the net. A film’s rental is akin to a net figure.

To clarify, “Jaws” was the first movie to top $100 in rental, a significant feat, for sure, but one that certainly requires a distinction in reporting the rental vs gross thing. Therefore, I’m confident my claim is correct that “The Sound Of Music” was the first movie to gross $100 million.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 18, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Boy,Michael i have to agree.in my days only theatre people knew about money.It was never in the news.Now every weekend “LET’S BREAK A RECORD” Ithink often the movie is secondary.

rph1975
rph1975 on March 25, 2010 at 6:22 am

Thank you for the article, it was wonderful. It supplied me with the date, 1.16.1965, of the sneak preview I got to attend when I was 13. A friend of my family worked at the Brook Theatre in Tulsa. She called us in the early evening to say there was to be a sneak preview of a “big” movie that night and we should come. No name was given. For whatever reason just myself and my dad went. My mom, who of course loves this film, stayed home with my 9 year old brother.

We got to the theatre, bought our tickets, and went in. A few rows at the back of the theatre were blocked off, and guarded. The theatre eventually filled up and someone came out front to tell us what we were going to see, and after the movie was over they were to hand out questionaires for us to fill out and give back, so please don’t leave. They then seated the back rows and the lights went down and we got to see an “uncut”, 70mm, stereophonic Sound of Music, complete with intermission. After the movie ended we filled out our questionaire and gave it back to someone as we exited. I don’t remember it being too extensive, or what the questions were, except, there was a kind of rating of what we thought of the actors.

I couldn’t tell you what the difference was between what I saw and the final release, though I wish I knew. Our friend who worked there told us one of the people sitting in the back row that night was Robert Wise, but I don’t know if that was true or not. It seemed kind of exciting at the time, but 40+ years on is getting kind of hazy. Thanks again for the great article.

PassatDoc
PassatDoc on July 1, 2011 at 4:40 am

Excellent article. I lived within walking distance of the Loma Theater in San Diego and saw the film five times over a period of two and a half years (133 week run). It was not an issue of being a major fan of the film, but rather the fact that it was the only theater within walking or biking distance from our home. I remember that the theater held a “second anniversary party”, and a photo appeared in the San Diego Union with some of the cast members (the kids, not the adults) and the theater manager, cutting a decorated cake.

The duration of 133 weeks coincides with my memory that the film made it past the 2 ½ year mark at the Loma but did not make it to the three year mark. I remember seeing “Rosemary’s Baby” (what a contrast to SOM!!) toward the end of sixth grade at the Loma, and the latter film debuted in c. June 1968. I don’t recall if Rosemary’s Baby was the first post-SOM feature film; it would be interesting to see a chronological list of films played at the Loma. The Loma played host to a number of limited “road show” engagements, including “Lawrence of Arabia” and later “E.T.” I don’t recall reserved seats for SOM, but I only attended matinees (because I walked there) and perhaps these were unreserved.

exclink
exclink on October 22, 2011 at 1:37 am

nice one mate i am waiting new update

Super 8 2011 480p BRRip XviD

Cliff Carson
Cliff Carson on January 4, 2013 at 3:15 pm

The Sound of Music was a grand film, but the roadshow attraction I remember being the most elaborate and special was OLIVER! at the newly built and plush LOEW’S TARA theatre in Atlanta. It was a single screen theatre in those days, beautifully lit with twinkling lights running up and down the columns of the building. OLIVER! was spared no expensive. Elaborate window designs, special marquee highlighting it’s showing, it was a real EVENT.

raysson
raysson on April 10, 2013 at 1:45 pm

THE SOUND OF MUSIC was also a roadshow engagement in 70mm at Greensboro’s Terrace Theatre on February 2,1967.

raysson
raysson on April 29, 2013 at 6:46 am

THE RESERVED SEAT ENGAGEMENTS:

Charlotte: Carolina –(3-31-1965)

Raleigh: Ambassador- (8-11-1965)

Winston-Salem: Winston- (8-11-1965)

Hickory: Carolina –(12-23-1966)

Durham: Center –(1-13-1967)

Wilmington: Manor-(1-13-1967)

Greensboro: Terrace- (2-2-1967)

THE NON-RESERVED SEATING ENGAGEMENT SHOWINGS: (Seating Was Not Reserved-Only Capacity Sold)

Fayetteville: Miracle –(4-20-1967)

Asheville: Imperial –(8-20-1967)

*Fayetteville and Asheville were absent from the Reserved Seat Engagement Showings of the film. The film was a general release in these two cities.

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