1936 - Claudette Colbert - She Married Her Boss
Karl Hobitzelle’s Interstate Theatres took over the Metropolitan from Publix Theaters. Not sure why, but Interstate had a 100 year lease on the building owned by Jesse Jones, who lived in the penthouse of the Lamer Hotel.
Douglas Gomery’s article, “U.S. Film Exhibition: The Formation of a Big Business,” describes the business model for early film exhibition strategies. During the 1920s, “the chain store emerged as the dominant mode for mass marketing goods and services” (Gomery, 1985, p. 219) in lieu of the smaller, independent, business stores. With the chain store business model as a standard, motion picture theater chains began to be established across the nation at regional levels. These regions would normally be centered near large metropolitan areas.
Balaban & Katz (B&K) Theater Chain
Between 1918 and 1925, one of the most successful regional chains was established in Chcago. It was known as Balaban & Katz (B&K). "B&K controlled nearly one-eighth of the potential market for motion picture entertainment in the United States at that time" (Gomery, 1985, p. 220). B&K erected huge theaters, some holding as many as 4,000 to 7,000 people. The B&K theaters were very decorative (many of which were modeled after European palaces) and were tendered with bright lights, spectacular foyers, a painting gallery, air conditioning, as well as clean, spacious restrooms, with free supervised child care services (Gomery, 1985, p. 221). As a result, a large part of the B&K clientele were middle-upper class people. B&K showed motion pictures in their theaters as well as live entertainment/vaudeville routines that were rotated on a continual basis.
Publix Theater Chain
In 1925, B&K "merged with industry giant Famous Players-Lasky" (Gomery, 1985, p. 223) which became known as the Publix theater chain. Within 5 years (i.e., by 1930), "Publix had become the most profitable theater chain in cinema history" (Gomery, 1985, p. 223). Not only did Publix present the best of feature films, it also had become the "largest employer of vaudeville talent in the United States" (Gomery, 1985, p. 224). The success of the Publix theater chain was due to the incorporation of business practices that followed the methods of large retailing corporations tailored to a national market.
Film Exhibition Prosperity
Due to the success enjoyed by both B&K and Publix theater chains, film exhibition grew to be a prosperous, booming business in the 1920s as well as throughout the following years during the Great Depression era.
Gomery, Douglas. (1985). “U.S. Film Exhibition: The Formation of a Big Business.” The American Film Industry. Tino Balio, Ed. Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press.
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