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A major point in the Coronet’s long history is that it was in the forefront of those “neighborhood” theatres that beginning in the fifties began to showcase first run features bypassing the downtown houses. Magna Theatres had a hand in this when they booked the original Todd-AO roadshow engagement of “Oklahoma” here instead of at a downtown location. Magna and United Artists continued this trend with this Rodgers & Hammerstein production as well as the 2nd and 3rd Todd-AO films, “80 Days” and “South Pacific”. “Oklahoma” also ran first-run 70mm roadshow at the Uptown Theatres'in Washington DC and Houston. Both were located, appropriately enough, “uptown,” not downtown.
The Rivoli was divided into an upstairs section with an incredibly small flat screen. The orchestra fared somewhat better with a slightly curved screen with curtains.
“ me and my book on …"
Mr. Haine, I would be interested in seeing your book. You seem very informative. Can you give us more information about it, please.
Do you mean an actual horizontal 35mm Technirama print of AMAME?
Joseph E. Levine and his Embassy Pictures distribution arm used the term “saturation” bookings as early as the Summer of 1960 with the release of “Hercules.” (Check out the “trades.”) As I stated, “Jaws” probably had the greatest number of prints working, but – and I thought this was the theme of the thread – the move away from single-theatre openings followed by multiple-theatre bookings in the “nabes” began in 1962 with UA’s “Premiere Showcase.”
It should also be remembered that the long-established method of downtown release (usually in one house)-followed by neighborhood wide release (in many houses) – was changed irrevocably in 1962, when United Artists, reportedly hypnotized by the sucess of the “saturation” booking pattern mastered by Joseph E. Levine, announced a policy of opening films in several New York City neighborhoods at once. They termed it “Premiere Showcase,” and the first film was 1962’s “Road to Hong Kong.” It changed everything. One of UA’s favorite Manhattan showplaces was the Astor (NOT the Astor Plaza). Once “Showcase” caught on, check out the papers and “Variety” and count the number of films that played there each year. Going out on a limb, I’d say, maybe 6 or 7 in 1959, because it had the NYC territory to itself. After showcase, the number of films increased, because each film’s run became shorter due to the competition from the boroughs. And by the late 1960s,, the poor Astor showed no films whatsoever. “Jaws” was indeed wide release, probably the largest number of prints at the time, but the “showcase” movement which altered time-honored distribution patterns —– not only in New York, but all across the country — began in earnest in 1962. “Showcasing” had a number of flavors: there was even a semi-roadshow showcasing of the film “Cast A Giant Shadow,” whereby the film opened on semi-roadshow-reserved performance run at several NYC area locations. Single-theatre openings, then as now, still mainly are found among independent and foreign-film entries.
Probably. But I understand that Mr. Todd as well as the Stanley-Warner/Cinerama, Inc. folks thought – someright rightely – that their particular entertainments were far ahead of and far better than ordinary “movies.” And thus, so it was believed, that popcorn was “beneath” their particular presentations.
“and they knew they could get popcorn etc at intermission.” Small trivia point here, but M. Todd did not allow popcorn to be sold at the Rivoli during the “80Days” run. And you couldn’t find it at the Cinerama travelogues, either. Anecdotal, and I don’t know if it’s true, but rumors at the time alleged that during the “LOA” run at the Criterion, the water pressure of the drinking fountains was lowered so that the audiences had to purchase drinks at the concession stand.
To answer OConnolly’s question about audiences and roadshows…it all depends. Press releases of the time often mentioned that the longruns of “Spartacus” (DeMille) and “Cleopatra” (Rivoli) were more due to contractual demands than audience demands. On the other hand, both “This Is Cinerama” and “80 Days” were virtual sell-outs during the first year of their runs. Same for SOM.
Please don’t forget the Cinerama long runs: “This Is Cinerma,” a total of 125 weeks (from 9/30/52 at the Broaday; from 6/53 until 2/55 at the Warner); “Cinerama Holiday” (62 weeks); and “7 Wonders of the World” (70 weeks).
That would make sense. i have somewhere articles that claim – don’t ask me to find them now – that the inventors began at, I think, UCLA, with motion simulators. sometime in the early-60’s…and it grew into a 70mm projection system. I believe the only remaining D-150 system remaining is outside of Chicago at the River Oaks in Calumet, IL. The main aud is still standing, and surrounded by a host of smaller buildings. Back to the Rosemary, William Gabel, at the head of the thread on this site specifically about the house says it was gutted in the 1950s. Which doesnt necessarily mean that it couldn’t have been used as an experimental house. Whaddya think? Vince
Do you happen to know during what time period this was…at the Fox Rosemary?
actually, when the theatre opened it carried the pompous name of “United Artists All-Purpose D-150 Theatre.” (The “all-purpose” from the fact that the D-150 lens/masking system handled the 4 most common gauges/ratios: flat 35mm, scope 35mm (wider AND taller than flat 35mm), regular 2.2:1 70mm, and then the bigger…full screen D-150. As far as I can find out…D-150 was shown only once there….on an opening night preview of a short subject that followed the regular 35mm feature. The two inventors were there, as were a small group of filmgoers. There were POV shots from a motorcycle in San Francisco, as well as clips from the Todd-AO “South Pacific.” Someone once told me many many years ago there was a 70mm Bollywood film festival. The whole subject of D-150 is full of confusion. The second installation, the UA in Groton, CT, apparently had the curved track, the curtains, the floor-level booth, but only 35mm capability.
As I was out of the States when “Patton” opened, I have always wondered if the special D-150 lenticular screen and lenses and masking were actually installed at the Criterion. What is usually a flawless guide to such matters, “The International Cinerama Society” listing of all Cinerama, CineMiracle, Kinopanorama, and D-150 theatres omits the Criterion. On the other hand, it also omits the United Artists Lefrak City (in the Queens section of New York) which was the first public installation of D-150. Can anybody really clarify if D-150 was actually installed in the Criterion?
Don’t know the exact date, but by the time the 70mm reissue of GWTW opened, it had been installed. this was in the Fall of 1967.
“Robert do you remember if the Rivoli utilized its curved screen for this engagement?"
It most certainly did. Not the later D-150 screen, mind you, but the original Todd-AO one.
I understand. And I appreciate your efforts. However, I do think – and I am not the only one who thinks this – that the Boyd could be…again… a magnificent “movie theatre.” The problem is with the distributors who will willingly book films into tiny boxes like the Sansom Street Roxy, and apparently dont give a damn about audience appreciation. I absolutely and totally disagree about your theory that Boyd’s not being possible to be operated as a single-screen first-run downtown theatre. But that’s just my opinion, Howard, as a patron of the Boyd since October, 1953. I will continue to support your efforts, but as a member of a large Cinerama-loving-and-supporting group, I am SURE it can be saved as as a “destination” first run house, much like the ones I mentioned earler. It can be done! Again, I appreciate your efforts, but I would like to see the Boyd restored to its 1953 glamour and glitz, not its 1928. Vince
To avoid serious litigation, I will try to hold my tongue here as much as possible, but the group of people (and I am seriously holding tongue here) who are trying to
turn the SamEric/aka Boyd in Philadelphia from a former formidable Cinerama venue into some artsy-fartsy performance venue have just
announced gleefully the following:
“The orchestra level projection booth was built for Cinerama in 1953 & expanded in 1962. The booth is an ugly intrusion on the Art Deco
showplace, and takes up prime seats. Once the delay in changing theater owners
was over, demolition began on the cinder block booth. I quickly
assembled a team to rescue the two 35/70 mm MOVIE PROJECTORS & SOUND
EQUIPMENT. Brian Hartman, 1990’s projectionist at the theater, has assisted
for 3 years. After having knocked down half of the booth, the sledge
hammers paused just long enough so that amidst the rubble, Brian could
disassemble the projectors & sound equipment. Professional movers took
them from the theater. Once renovation is complete, film equipment will be
in the original, upstairs booth.”
I was fortunate enough to take a tour of the Boyd with these people (tongue
still held in cheek) a couple of months ago and got a
chance to explore the stagehouse, both booths, offices, dressing rooms, etc.
These people (tongue squirming now) want to turn
this place back to its original state, even removing the 1953 Cinerama
marquee and replacing it with its ugly-a** 1928 white-lettering-on-black
They haven’t a clue about how to return this theatre into one of the East
Coast’s most fantastic single-screen theatres. Now that the DC Uptown
has begun its ride into Hell, and the D-150 house in Long Island now gone, and the Music Hall too expensive to distributors to show films on a regular basis, thiswould be – for a forward-thinking business person – the perfect opportunity for a top-grossing house, like the Dome(s), like the Seattle Cinerama, etc. Instead, what we’re going to have in Philadelphia is a building which has
gone from GWTW to TIC to Britney Spears!!!!!!
I should let you know that these statements about the circumcision of the Boyd were made by a person who debated me about whether the original booth had ever been used since 1953. Some idiot who was often mistaken about the history of Philadelphia theatres (no, I’m not saying his name) stated in a published book that the Boyd’s original upstairs booth had not been used since 1953. I guess those prologues and breakdown reels were projected from across the street.
I know this is going to stir up an uproar among the Roxy-ites here, and I apologize for that up front, but in the interest of wide-screen historia, which is my field, i feel compelled to ask this question: does anybody have photographs of the Roxy CineMiracle installation in 1958. I know that most Roxy fans hated it, but i really would like to see photos. At least one person on this thread has acknowledged that he saw the presentation. BGW, photos of the Hollywood Chinese also appreciated. Thanks loads, Vince
i saw the original at RCMH with daddy coppola conducting an orchestra. my question is: i have heard that there was another engagement sometime later – either with 3 projectors, or in single projector 70mm – that used a massive screen, presumably the widest possible inside the proscenium. is this true?
Re: airport 70mm. not in philadelphia. also, “napoleon,” also only 35mm in the city of cant-be-bothered-with-70mm-love. “airport” opened in philly in a 70mm-equipped house, but with an anamorphic 35mm print. “napoleon” opened in a 35mm-only house.
Dennis, there are pictures of the original Cinerama auditorium head-on installation at the Temple Univ archives site. These were probably from the “Bulletin.” There are other pictures from the “Inquirer”. If you wait a minute, and be sure to remind me, i can get you the date of the Inquirer photo. The one i have is a reprint from an article that appeared a little while back when the restoration program began..the “Bulletin” photos i know exist because someone in the current SavetheSameric program showed them to me, but he refused to let me know the dates. But they do exist. If you find them before I do, I would hope you would share them. Yes, they are alive!!!!
I recall seeing it at the 2nd run Stanley-Warner Orpheum in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, PA in late 1959. Maybe we were jaded, but it got a big laugh there. Even though not in VistaVision :)
rg, interesting. it may be that i saw “fiddler” after the hard-ticket, roadshow run had been discontinued. this often happened, and the house would go continous-“popular prices” midway through the run…i seem to recall (and this is dangerous) that i sat my self down front row center with my friend without having to have had reserved seats. btw, i went to the last show at the Fox.