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In today’s CT there is a story about the 45th Anniversary of Sound of Music. At the end they list the length of the roadshow engagements. For the Metropolitan: 05.26.1965 … San Juan, Puerto Rico â€" Metropolitan (44 weeks). I did not remember it played that long, I always though it had played 22 weeks or so. Maybe they included the reissue. I really don’t remember.
Bob, as some contributor here know, I was in the film business in PR in the 60’s. ALL films in the English language were shown in English with Spanish subtitles, including Cinerama films of course. Maybe animated films for children alternated English and Spanish or used the Spanish version in “la isla”, but I am not sure because Commonwealth did not book many animated films. Disney’s Sword and the Stone was shown with subtitles at the Plaza 2. The cost of booking a film did not have anything to do with the language or if it had subtitles. It had to do with quality, star power, etc. Foreign films were in English most of the time if not all the time, because they were booked through their US distributors' offices in PR (MGM, Columbia, Fox, etc.). In the case of The Longest Day, the soundtrack was in English. French and German and had both Spanish and English subtitles. Originally the film had Spanish subtitles only but we requested Fox to add English subtitles for non Spanish speaking customers, at no extra cost for us. The only ones who had to pay for subtitling a film were independent distributors like World Films. Subtitling cost about $1,500 and did not affect the booking/rental cost. Subtitling was easy, print the titles on the negative and then print the copies of the film.
Thanks Al, did not think of that. As a PS, we besides the advance, we paid 70% of the weekly gross to Fox.
Moved to NYC after the Capitol had been demolished so had no chance to see a movie there. But I did have a chance to eat at the Horn and Hardart on 42nd and 3rd. Those were the good old days!
Re the May 1 comment above on the advance payment on Cleopatra, it was not a publicity stunt. I was the manager of the Metropolitan in San Juan, PR, where Cleopatra played. We paid a $75,000 advance and a 22 week playing time guarantee. The film flopped in PR, never had a full house and we convinced Fox to close the film in the 20th week and bring back Longest Day to complete the last 2 weeks of the contract. Longest Day’s daily gross in those 2 weeks surpassed the daily gross of Cleopatra every single day.
Correction: “We’ll always have Paris” is the correct line. Sorry.
Yes, pretty small, but in way it had its charm and played very good movies. As for single screen, as Rick told Ilsa, “We still have (the) Paris”.
It’s a shame NYC does not have a Cinerama theater like LA and Seattle. It would be a big tourism attraction.
After it was twinned, I preferred the 2 upstairs. Being the former balcony, seats were like today’s stadium seating and you had the top of the magnificent proscenium arch. It’s a shame it’s gone like all the other great NYC theaters. I love NYC, but I don’t understand why al least some of the theaters were not saved or why Times Square is now a seating area for fat tourists. Emperor Bloomberg, don’t change the character of NYC, bring back cars and the hustle and bustle back to TS to NYC. Please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I don’t remember if it was a Llamas theater at one time, I knew it as a Cobian theater, part of Commonwealth Theaters. Originally named the San Jose, Commonwealth renovated it and renamed it the Grand.
I had forgotten about this theater. It was a Llamas theater, part of the package that Cobian took over when he leased the Llamas Circuit before joining forces with Vicfor Carrady and Jack Odell to form Commonwealth Theaters.
Thanks for the info, Al.
I wonder why the beautiful and spectacular RCMH was built facing 6th Ave. with an elevated train track in front of the facade. Why it was not built facing 5th Ave.? Anyone knows?
Ian, of course it was negative. I did nor like the intro, period. Let’s just end it. I am entitled to my opinion. You or someone else did not like it? Too bad.
Ian: i am not bitter or sad, I am enjoying my retirement traveling as much as I can (or afford it). As for my post on Gary/WSS, I was just curious. I have the right to be, specially after reading the intro. I am also entitled to an opinion and that does not have anything to do with happiness or anything. Happy people have the right to opine or are you opining because you have a problem. Of course not.
I have never given an intro to a film nor expect to. I am not qualified.
Hola Segurola. The only break I remember was at the Cinerama during the run of HTWWW. One of the film strips broke and the show was stopped immediately of course. When a break happened in a 3-strip Cinerama film, black film was spliced into the film to keep the 3 strips in sync. When the film was resumed all you saw was a quick black spot on the screen. We always had dress rehearsals for roadshow openings. On the afternoon dress rehearsal for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, when the film started, the music on the titles sequence was the music of the Sound of Music titles (the same lab did the prints of both films), and the Chitty Chitty music and dialogue started right after the director’s credit. I went back to the office and called UA to get another first reel from NY, picked up my copy of the soundtrack LP and played it on the theater’s record player the titles music under the main title on the evening premiere performance. Next day we had a new first reel via Pan Am express. On screen focus, we had good projectionists at the first run houses and they also had to be licensed electricians. We always had a few focus complaints on Doris Day films. Her close ups were filmed through gauze in front of the camera lens in order to hide her freckles. We always had a hard time explaining this to the customers. Another thing was that when most of the films began to be shot in color to compete with color TV, some customers refused to see black and white films. “Â¿No es en colores? Entonces no entro”. And we are talking about The Train, 7 Days in May, Manchurian Candidate and other top films. I don’t remember that happening with Longest Day. In the late 60’s we stopped showing old “Pasiones” — except in “la isla” were we even showed old silent ones. Yes, you read it right, silent. In San Juan and other cities we played 10 Commandments, Ben-Hur and the like. Sweet Charity opened on Easter week at Plaza 1 and we had 10 Commandments at 2. On Easter Sunday morning, the Plaza manager called me and told me Plaza 1 was empty and at Plaza 2 people were fighting to get in and had broken the box office glass. I told him to switch films right away and put Commandments on Plaza 1. I then called the Universal Branch Manager and told him what I had done. He said OK, did not blame me and would notify NY next day. I also called CobiÃ¡n and Carrady and told them. When I was a kid, I lived on Calle Cordero so I used to go to the San JosÃ©, later Grand, a lot. Every time I saw the doorman changing the marquee, I always thought I wanted to change a theater marquee. Well, my wish came true at Plaza 1 and 2. On opening day I told the workers that I wanted to put up the marquee letters. Got up on the scaffold and did it. At new theaters openings we — including the top people like CobiÃ¡n and Carrady — went to the theater and worked until the last minute cleaning, nailing the last piece of carpet, etc. At the Plaza opening, since I knew I would not have time to go home and change, I took my tux with me and washed and shaved in the men’s room. Thank God I had a good cologne and deodorant. Hope did not bore you and other CT contributors. See ya.
I would really like to know how Gary aka Ziegfeld Man, whom I gather is just another paying customer of Clearview, gets to introduce classic films at the Ziegfeld. What is his background, expertise? On WSS, did he work in the film? Did he know Robert Wise? What makes him an expert? Or is he related to someone at Clearview. And telling Vito he will do his best in following his instructions, is he a licensed projectionist? Does he know what switch to throw? And I don’t understand how Vito — who in my opinions posts very intelligent and interesting comments — liked his, in my opinion, childish presentation. “And know let’s hear the whistles”. i can imagine him jumping up and down in front of the screen holding a toy train.
Seguriola: As I have said in others post, I was in the film exhibition business in PR during the 1960s. I worked for both Commonwealth Theaters, later Wometco, and MGM. DoÃ±a Mary — not Meri — was the widow of Pedro Armenteros, the owner of both the Riviera and the Delicias on Fernandez Juncos Ave. and Calle Parque, later sold or leased and was renamed the Rex. MGM wanted to lease and remodel the Riviera but Da. Mary refused because she had promised the husband that the Riviera would always be “in the family”. Her son tried to convince her to accept the MGM offer to no avail. MGM then leased the Music Hall from the Circuito Llamas. (A bit of history: Rafael Ramos Cobian decided to retire from the theater business and went into politics and baseball and bought the San Juan baseball team and leased Teatros CobiÃ¡n to Victor Carrady and Jack Odell, who operated the independent Lorraine. He changed his mind and leased the Circuito Llamas and competed against his own theaters. He remodeled the Oriente adjacent to the Matienzo, renamed it the Music Hall and introduced CinemaScope to PR. When the Llamas leased expired he joined forces with Carrady and Odell and formed Commonwealth Theaters, starting a remodeling and building project that resulted in the Puerto Rico, Radio City/Excelsior, Cinerama and others.) The first or one of the first MGM bookings at the Music Hall was a Greta Garbo festival and an operetta festival. Both made a ton of money. The idea of the festivals was actually given to MGM from a Commonwealth executive. We were friendly competitors. As for Cinerama, the projectors were not panoramic, they were 35mm which projected a taller image than regular 35mm and the image did not overlap on the screen, they were side by side and filled the big Cinerama screen. The film strips were silent, the sound was in a separate projector that ran a 35mm magnetic film with the soundtrack. Finally, perhaps if Da. Mary had accepted the MGM offer, the Riviera may still be standing operated by Caribbean Cinemas, who took over the Metro. Maybe it would have been twined, but it would probably be still standing and showing films.
When the Liberty was remodeled and became a first run house it was renamed the Loraine after the daughter of either Victor Carrady or Jack Odell, who operated the theater. It was an independent theater until Carrady and Odell joined forces with Rafael Ramos CobiÃ¡n and formed Commonwealth Theaters.
LUISMEL, I don’t remember a Teatro Presidente in Rio Piedras or anywhere else in Puerto Rico.
I was the District and Advertising Manager for Commonwealth Theaters of PR, later Wometco, in the 1960’s.
The Oller theater was owned by the Oller family, pioneers of the film business in PR. They also owned the Carmen theater in BayamÃ³n. One of the brothers, Jorge, was a vice president of Commonwealth.
The Oller did not have 70mm equipment. Sound of Music premiered at the Metropolitan in Santurce where all the big 70mm films premiered at the time until the Metro installed 70mm in the late 60’s. The Metropolitan played roadshow but seats were not reserved.
Charmian Carr visited PR as part of a promotional tour for Latin America and we re-issued Sound of Music at the Metropolitan to take avantage of the tour. She made an appearance at the first night of the re-issue and got a lot of publicity and also by having her visit Mayor Felisa RincÃ³n among other activities.
I chauffeured Charmian around during her stay in San Juan.
The Oller was not a first run house, it played films after they had played in San Juan with an occasional “day and date” or simultaneous release with one or more San Juan theaters.