The first CinemaScope release at The Piccadilly Theatre, Perth was the Universal Pictures production "Sign Of The Pagan" - July 15th 1955.

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Taken on: May 1, 2018

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Date_time_original: Tue May 01 09:58:10 +0000 2018

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Date_time_digitized: Tue May 01 09:58:10 +0000 2018

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The first CinemaScope release at The Piccadilly Theatre, Perth was the Universal Pictures production "Sign Of The Pagan" - July 15th 1955.

Greg Lynch says – CINEMASCOPE – The first CinemaScope release at The Piccadilly Theatre was the Universal Pictures big budget production “Sign Of The Pagan”. The season began on July 15th 1955. This was Universal’s first movie using the CinemaScope process. Piccadilly patrons had to wait until November for the next CinemaScope release “The Black Shield of Falworth”. The Piccadilly was well prepared for CinemaScope. During 1954 a large seamless Miracle Mirror screen, ( to suit all existing ratios ) had been installed, while major structural alterations had been made in preparation for Paramount’s “White Christmas” which was to be presented in big screen VistaVision (Motion Picture High Fidelity). The proscenium was widened, almost wall to wall, along with the installation of magnificent gold curtain drapes. White Christmas in VistaVision debuted at The Piccadilly, 23rd April 1955. VistaVision was also installed at the sister venue “The Princess Theatre, Fremantle”. It is this writers opinion that these two locations were the only optimum installation of VistaVision ever made in Western Australia – History tells us that the first CinemaScope installation in Perth was at Hoyts Ambassadors, with 20th Century Fox’s “The Robe”, premiering Dec 31, 1953. Hoyts Theatres Ltd, managing director Ernest G. Turnbull made an advance announcement In the “Sunday Times”, 22 Nov 1953, that Hoyts would spend £20,000 equipping the Ambassadors for CinemaScope. He went on : “Instead of the limited, almost-square picture we know today, CinemaScope gives real-life perspective, on a curved screen, two and a half times the normal width. Special glasses or viewers are not required. ( The modern miracle you see without glasses ) CinemaScope’s dimensional depth is an illusion created by light on myriad’s of tiny mirrors embedded in the screen, which at the Ambassadors Theatre will be 39 feel wide and 15 feet high. Sound we are accustomed to hearing from a single amplifier set at the centre of the screen, is recorded on 4 separate magnetic tracks at point of origin, and is distributed through speakers arranged behind the screen, and around the auditorium. The outlook for 1954 is very bright indeed, said Mr. Turnbull. Leaders of the motion picture industry see CinemaScope as the dawn of an entire new era in entertainment”. – Just across town MGM were quick to follow at “The Metro”, with “Knights Of The Round Table”. This not only boasted CinemaScope, it also offered a brand new optical sound process called, “The Perspecta Stereophonic Sound System”, invented by Robert Fine. This is a system for obtaining directional stereophonic sound through a single standard optical sound-track. Prints with Perspecta Sound can be used without adjustment in theatres not equipped for stereophonic sound. “Knights Of The Round Table” opened at The Metro on Monday. August 23. 1954. Lionel Hart’s “Liberty Theatre” in Barrack Street, converted to CinemaScope in Oct 1955, with Columbia’s “The Man From Laramie”. Interestingly, Hoyts Plaza, located opposite The Ambassadors, opened with CinemaScope on 11th May 1956 with “The 7 Year Itch”, that’s two years and five months after the release of “The Robe”. “The Grand, Royal and Capitol cinemas would follow with CinemaScope installations in the coming months. – I would like to thank Roy Mudge, Perth Cinema Historian, for his assistance in the preparation of this article…

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