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I guess no matter how well reviewed or not a
roadshow film was its theatrical shelf life still
varied from city to city. now I don’t remember
how long Circus World’s roadshow run was at the
Warner Cinerama at Bway & 47 St. but it was
most certainly longer than 3 weeks. so I’m guessing
whatever merits the film may have had were more
inviting to NYC moviegoers than D.C. moviegoers.
still a roadshow run of only 3 weeks especially
for a big well publicized film regardless of whether
is was Oscar material still seems inordinately
short. hey the biggest roadshow disappointment in
the prime Oct. 1955 thru Dec. 1972 period in Manhattan was Half a Sixpence which ran 6 weeks.
Hello to All-
I have an interesting question pertaining
to roadshow films. some studios seemed more
adept at keeping complete roadshow prints
in good condition than others. for instance
all of MGM’s roadshow epics released by
Warner Home Video first on dvd and now
blu-ray are the original roadshow prints.
yet on the available dvd and blu-ray of South
Pacific and The Sand Pebbles only the
general release prints are in good condition.
the accompanying roadshow prints are quite
uneven. any thoughts?
I thank all of my fellow posters who commented
on my question as to how “off the beaten track”
the Ziegfeld is. the reason the Ziegfeld rarely
has anything amounting to a decent sized
audience is because any “big” film
which opens there also opens at a dozen other
theaters in Manhattan. my point being said lack of
a decent sized audience has nothing to do with it
“being off the beaten path” in the strict sense
of the term. after all people had no trouble
finding it in the 70s and 80s when it still played
exclusive 1st runs.
you certainly make a valid point about the foot
traffic around the Ziegfeld once the workday is
over. but and there’s always a butt.
though Marooned was the theater’s one reserved
seat engagement studios continued to use the
theater for exclusive 1st runs even after the
reserved seat policy was discontinued. these
exclusive engagements were for both new films
and restored classics(My Fair Lady, Vertigo etc..).
so if people were able to easily find the
Ziegfeld when studios still used it for exclusive
1st runs I don’t see why people should have
trouble finding it now. plus I bet the foot
traffic after the work day was over was no different
then than it is now.
thanks Al for validating my inquiry as to whether
CAGS opened at this theater on a traditional
roadshow engagement. its possible the recently
released blu-ray disc is the general release
print since of all the roadshow films i went to
I never remember one without an intermission.
also to techman707. I don’t wish to sound vain
in my knowledge of roadshow souvenir programs
but I am confident that Hawaii was the last such
film to have a hardcover one.
also to answer your question. I do not have
a souvenir program for The Jazz Singer. my oldest
souvenir program is for the silent version of
Ben-Hur which opened Dec. 1925.
while we’re on the subject. I am one of the few
people I know of who collects souvenir programs
that has a complete one for 1926’s Don Juan with
John Barrymore. I say complete because in the
center of the program they placed a large sized
color post card of Barrymore in costume. I should
think programs which still have the card are more
valuable then those that don’t.
hey I’m not 19 anymore either but I pride myself
on being say 98% correct in my recollections. according
to “Movie Roadshows” by Kim Holston CAGS opened at
this theater March 30, 1966 on a roadshow engagement.
in fact I can remember seeing a full page ad
about advance tickets sales in the Arts and Leisure
section of the Sunday Times weeks before the film
also I happen to like “Hawaii”. its one of the
big roadshow films of the 1955-1972 period that
is better than its slightly off reputation. I saw
it at this theater during its original roadshow
engagement. I just hope at whatever point they release
a blu-ray disc of the film it is in fact the complete roadshow print.
also “Hawaii” has interesting distinction. its the
last of the roadshow films to have a hardcover
I just watched the Blu-ray disc of Cast A Giant
Shadow which was released this past Tues. a very
entertaining though fictionalized account of the
events. rather a well done grand scale film.
to which my question. the film opened at this
theater the Spring of 1966 on a roadshow engagement.
the interesting part is that on the blu-ray disc
the film has no intermission. I thought intermissions
were part and parcel of roadshow engagements?
also the blu-ray disc has a running time of 2 hrs.
18mins.. yet the Wikipedia page on the film gives
the film a running time of 2hrs. 26mins. what
happened to the other 8 minutes? if you are
going to release a blu-ray disc of a roadshow
film shouldn’t it be the roadshow print?
Hello Again to Joe Vogel-
from the wording of your reply about the Fine
Arts it appears you might be an administrator
of this site. if you are a question for you-
the golden age of grand old movie theater
building was approx. 1914-1941. now many of
said grand old theaters built during this
period were built from the get go as 2nd/3rd run
neighborhood houses. the Castro in S.F. a
perfect example. which brings me to my
question. I created a project to see how many
of said grand old movie theaters that were
built from the get go as premiere 1st run
venues have continued to operate as such since
the day they opened. the only one I have been
able to find is the Chinese. so is it really
possible that of all the grand old movie theaters
built 1914-1941 from the get go as premiere 1st
run venues the Chinese is the only one in all
50 states that has continued to operate as
such? very sad if that’s the case.
to Joe Vogel-
I looked again at the 1968 page for 70MM in L.A.
to make sure I hadn’t gotten the name wrong. but
for the Oct.25 opening of The Charge of the Light
Brigade it is in fact referred to as the Fox Fine
I clicked on the link Coate included for 70MM in
L.A. and clicked on 1968. that year the Chinese
hosted two roadshow engagements. I was familiar with
all the theaters on the 1968 list except for two-
the 4 Star and The Fox Fine Arts. as in NYC the
studios would occasionally book reserve seat runs into
theater not traditionally used for such engagements.
now the 4 Star which has been a church for many years
is in the process of being razed. but I could find
no mention of the Fox Fine Arts on this website.
what name is it listed under?
to E. O. Norton and Coate-
many thanks for your assistance with my inquiry.
as Norton suggested I looked at the theater
website and clicked on “every film to play the
Chinese”. and found that in addition to West Side
Story and Hello Dolly the Chinese hosted 3 other
roadshows-Windjammer, Half A Sixpence and Chitty
Chitty Bang Bang.
a question for both of you. in the prime roadshow
period of Oct. 1955 thru Dec. 1972 i have always
found it interesting that whatever studio was
involved would open a film on a traditional roadshow
engagement in city but not another. for instance
Cast A Giant Shadow opened on a traditional
roadshow run at the Demille in Manhattan but opened
on continuous performance at the Chinese. in reverse
The Great Race opened on a continuous performance
run in Manhattan but on a traditional roadshow run
at the Pantages. i have always found that a odd way
of doing things. what’s your take?
and for Coate-
i posed a question for you on the page for the Uptown
in D.C. that i would greatly appreciate your thoughts
on. its dated Aug. 5th 2014 2:16p.m.. thanks for
Hello From NYC-
before I found this website I was unaware that this
theater hosted roadshow engagements or reserved seat
movie as me and my friends called them. to which
my question. the period from the Oct. 1955 opening
of Oklahoma to the Dec. 1972 opening of Man of La
Mancha I refer to as the prime roadshow period. now
during this period did the Chinese host any roadshow
engagements other than West Side Story and Hello
this question is for devotees of the good olde
reserved seat policy or to use the trade term
roadshow policy. of course the only roadshow
engagement this theater hosted was its initial
film “Marooned”. so for the Oct. 1955 to Dec.
1972 prime roadshow period did anyone attend
or know of a reserved seat run that did not have
a souvenir program?
I refer to the Oct. 1955 opening of Oklahoma to
the Dec. 1972 opening of Man of La Mancha as the
prime roadshow period. so from its opening Nov.
1963 to when the roadshow policy was discontinued
the Dome hosted many a reserved seat engagement.
to which my question- can anyone remember a
roadshow engagement at the Dome that did not
have a souvenir program?
to Escott O. Norton-
thanks for the reply to my inquiry. to which I want
to make sure I understand your reply. so are you
saying that although the Chinese is now a state of the
art IMAX theater following its Sept. 2013 reopening
that it still faces the same problem as the Ziegfeld
in Manhattan? a companion question. since its
reopening have there been any “big” films that had
almost sell out crowds? when the theater reopened
last Sept. its new sound and projection was highly
lauded by everyone. yet from the posting by the
person who saw Catching Fire on Sun. two days after
it opened the person was shocked the theater was
at the most 20% full. to bad if that’s the case.
in Manhattan many theaters have discount rates
for shows before 12 noon but the Ziegfeld is not
one of them. so if a “big” film opens at a number
of theaters in Manhattan that offer the discount
rate I will see it at the Ziegfeld because while
it may sell out at the smaller theaters I know
no matter how critically lauded the film is the
Ziegfeld will be at the most 25% filled.
to Ed S.–
it is certainly sad especially since I remember the
Mayfair/Demille as one of the prime roadshow houses
from 1955-1972(its last roadshow was The Shoes of
the Fisherman Nov. 1968).
to which a question. after I discovered this
wonderful site the last week of Jan. 2012 I created
a project for myself. said project being to
find the 1st theater built in Manhattan brick by
brick from the ground up with the intent of
showing movies or flickers as they were called.
using this site the oldest I was able to find is
the Crescent which was located at 36 W. 135 St.
and opened on the site the night of Dec. 16, 1909
as a combo picture house and vaudeville theater.
I contacted the New York Historical Society and
asked them since if anyone could say authoritatively
they could. guess what? the Reference Librarian
e-mailed back and said even they are a tad fuzzy
on the 1st purpose built brick by brick from the
ground up movie theater in Manhattan. since
whatever “movie theaters” existed in Manhattan in
the first several years of the biz were music halls,
vaudeville theaters, legitimate theaters or decent
sized unused retail spaces that were simply converted
to show films you would think the first purpose
built brick by brick from the ground up movie
theater would have been made note of in the press
of the day.
again many many thanks for the list of the other
D.C. houses the studios used for roadshow engagements.
it was rather kind of you to do so. added to the
Uptown list you kindly provided for me I guess this
covers all the prime Oct.1955-Dec.1972 roadshow
engagements. also when you have a spare moment
I would greatly appreciate your take on why
Circus World’s roadshow run at the Uptown lasted
only 3 weeks whereas other hyped roadshow epics
which likewise received critically mixed reviews
sometimes lasted 15-20 weeks.thanks in advance.
in Manhattan the Ziegfeld is still in my opinion
the theater to see a big action and or science
fiction/fantasy film. this is for both sound and
projection which brings me to my question.
no matter how critically well received a film
might be and no matter how popular it is with
moviegoers the Ziegfeld is never very full even
at optimum times like Sat. or Sun. screenings.
this is of course due to the fact that every
action/science fiction/fantasy film opens on
2,000-3,000 screens on the same day. now I’m
assuming no film which plays the Chinese will be
playing in another theater in the immediate
Hollywood area. but there is all of L.A.. so
even with the recent upgrade at the Chinese does
it in fact have the same problem as the Ziegfeld?
I remember last Nov. a poster mentioned he and
friends went to a Sun. afternoon screening only two
days after it opened of Catching Fire and the theater was at the most 20% full.
many many thanks for your detailed list. it was
quite kind of you. since you appear to be quite
well versed on the subject a two part question.
*during the prime roadshow era(Oct. 1955-Dec.1972)
Manhattan had 7 large 1st run venues that the
studios used for roadshow engagements-Criterion,
Loew’s State, RKO Palace, Demille ,Warner, Rivoli
and the Loew’s Captiol. while it would be nice
to have as detailed a list per the Uptown for all
of D.C.’s roadshow houses that’s asking a bit much
so could you at least name what other D.C. houses
were used by the studios for roadshow runs.thanks.
*I’m not saying it was Oscar material or one of the
best large scale action epics but Circus World’s
3 week roadshow rum seems inordinately short. I
don’t know how long its roadshow run at the
Warner Cinerama was but it was way longer than 3
weeks. you would figure with all the pre-lease
hype for CW and whatever advance sales were in place
before opening night what’s up. again I’m not
saying it was Oscar material or one of the great
large scale action epics but there were a number
of roadshow epics in New York that got a mixed
critical response but still ran for 15-20 weeks.
so what’s with CW’s 3 week D.C. roadshow run?
to Al A.–
as always thanks for your reply. while I am
happy this theater is still alive and well as
stated in my last e-mail as hard as I have
tried I can’t remember the last time this
theater hosted an exclusive engagement. so i
suppose it had to be before the opening in 2,000
to 3,000 theaters on the same day trend started.
for instance were Close Encounters of the Third
Kind(Nov. 1977) and The Rose(Nov. 1979)exclusive
Hello to Al A.–
you have always been kind to answer my inquiries
so here’s a good one that I have not been able to
find the answer to but I bet you know it. even
after studios abandoned the reserved seat exhibition
policy they still opened their “big” films in one
maybe two theaters in Manhattan. so do you know the
last exclusive engagement this theater hosted? I’m
speaking of new films so the Oct. 1996 exclusive
run of the restored “Vertigo” doesn’t count.
to Bill H.–
thanks for the other titles from when the studios
still used the Ziegfeld for exclusive 1st run
engagements. since this theater is the place to
see widescreen films that’s why it was frequently
sold out years ago. it was the only theater in
Manhattan if the not the city playing a film.
which prompts two additional questions-
*as I stated in my post if people had no trouble
finding and getting to the theater 20-25 years ago
how is it “off the beaten path” today?
*what was in fact the last exclusive 1st run
engagement of a studio film at the Ziegfeld?
the special 2 week runs of Dreamgirls and The
Princess and the Frog before hey opened wide
to AL A.–
after posting my query I looked up on Amazon and
both a vhs and dvd of CAGS have been released. I
am surprised I never came across either when home
video stores were all over Manhattan.
also a new question you’re going to need to put
your thinking cap on for. in the NYC metropolitan
area countless theaters were designed by premiere
movie theater architects Thomas Lamb and John
Ebberson. so many I figured how did either one
have time to eat or sleep. and this isn’t even
counting other theaters they designed across the
country. now rather recently I read that after their
careers were up and running both created firms
that had architects other than them. so that many
of the movie theaters attributed to “Thomas Lamb”
per se may have actually been designed by someone
else in the firm. this sounded reasonable to me
since I can’t imagine how either Lamb or Ebberson
could possibly have designed and coordinated
construction all the theater attributed to them.
to which my question- how can one find out how
many theaters attributed to either Lamb or Ebberson
were actually personally designed by them? much in
the same vein as how many buildings, monuments etc…
attributed to the firm of McKim/Meade/White were
actually designed by McKim, Meade or White?