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Historical question re: advertising in movie theaters


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Over the years, I have collected several DVD's with what appear to be ads for automobiles and passenger trains.  Some are 5-10 minutes, but others are up to 40 minutes long.   Most are for the 1940's and 50's.  Jim Handy company made some of them.

Were these made for showing in movie theaters?  They are too long for TV ads unless they were provided as fillers back in early days of TV.  What other uses for them.  Thanks.

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 Historical question re: advertising in movie theaters

My downtown theatre use to show local commercial ads for retailers.  The company was called ITP (Interstate Theater Promotions.)  It ran about 5-7 minutes  followed by other ads i.e. Pepsi and a cartoon short generally Woody Woodpecker before the main feature.

YES commercials in a theater, the heresy. :blink:

1985? try 1983!!!

 

Plus Bic lighter Feature Presentation / Intermission  / Smoke in Lobby Only.

Sample

 

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1 hour ago, Dargo said:

I would guess that they were for the purposes of inhouse sales departments.

(...and probably shown at various corporate meetings)

Agree.  There's even a sub-genre of these that are musicals.  There was a documentary about these industrial musicals (Bathtubs Over Broadway).  They used to be common up until the early 80s.   These were either live productions done at conventions, or filmed/taped for showing in house at conventions, sales meetings, etc.

The industrial musicals were important to the NY theater as it provided employment between gigs in the theaters.  Even big name stars like Chita Rivera were in them (after she made a name for herself).

 

 

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I don't recall adverts in theaters until maybe the 80's. Theater attendance was in a major downturn, I don't blame them a bit. I recall theaters projecting slides of mixed adverts & suggestions like no smoking/talking.

I thought this thread was about advertisements SENT TO theaters by the studios to promote their newest prestige picture. I found a glorious 1940 pamphlet from Disney promoting FANTASIA in the basement of an old theater, as well as a cool theater lighting fixture catalogue.

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15 hours ago, Dargo said:

I would guess that they were for the purposes of inhouse sales departments.

(...and probably shown at various corporate meetings)

Thanks.  I thought about that, but they seem too purchaser oriented and sometimes too long for showing to people already in the business.  Most don't really show things that would help dealers to sell them to customers.  There are some that are obviously aimed at the dealers and so forth.

Anyway, they make entertaining viewing while riding my exercise bike.

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13 hours ago, txfilmfan said:

Agree.  There's even a sub-genre of these that are musicals.  There was a documentary about these industrial musicals (Bathtubs Over Broadway).  They used to be common up until the early 80s.   These were either live productions done at conventions, or filmed/taped for showing in house at conventions, sales meetings, etc.

The industrial musicals were important to the NY theater as it provided employment between gigs in the theaters.  Even big name stars like Chita Rivera were in them (after she made a name for herself).

 

 

Watched one yesterday where John Dehner had a role, although not one of the "stars."  Clarence Kolb from My Little Margie was in it as well.  It was one about the new 1952 Oldsmobiles featuring Johnny (Bill Hayes) and Lucille (Greta Gray).  They actually showed up in a lot of Olds print ads from that era as well.

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I am aware that the following really in no way answers your question, but just hear me out.

I am re-reading NOTHING MORE THAN MURDER by one of my favorite authors JIM THOMPSON. it came out in 1949 and it is about a husband and wife and his girlfriend who are involved in an insurance scheme to burn down the small town GRINDHOUSE MOVIE THEATER they run which they stock with features from Independent release companies (akin to PRC and Monogram and Republic and even ROADSHOW stuff.)

it goes into deep and frankly fascinating detail about PROJECTION EQUIPMENT and the PROJECTIONISTS UNION, which could SHUT DOWN A THEATER BUT FAST over labor violations- real or otherwise. it's all a big racket with all the local moviehouses out to screw one another.

it's a whole BYGONE WORLD with all kinds of catches and snares- and seemed to be rather an intricate business left open to FATE in many ways. 

it had never occured to me, but of course there was a whole RACKET built around places that screened movies, I think more people went to the movies in the late forties than ever before or ever again.

anyhow, sorry to not answer your question- but if you'd like to know ALMOST EVERYTHING ELSE about OLD SCHOOL MOVIEHOUSES besides THE ADS (which the books makes no mention of) then this book is for you!

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Here's one of these I ran across a while back while surfing through YouTube, and which features the lovely actress Marj Dusay mostly remembered for her later soap opera career...

 

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55 minutes ago, Dargo said:

Here's one of these I ran across a while back while surfing through YouTube, and which features the lovely actress Marj Dusay mostly remembered for her later soap opera career...

 

Interesting how much actually did happen, but in a different way.  Speaking of the online purchasing, monitoring cameras, communicating over computers with videos, etc. 

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3 hours ago, Fedya said:

This goes back to at least 1909:

 

I don't think they were advertising hats there, Fedya.  ;)   Just a way to request female  patrons to remove large hats while in the theater.  Not the same as a commercial advertisement.   And like TIKI, I too, don't recall any ads for products of retail businesses before movies and/or movie trailers in theaters before the '80's.

Sepiatone

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1 hour ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

I am aware that the following really in no way answers your question, but just hear me out.

I am re-reading NOTHING MORE THAN MURDER by one of my favorite authors JIM THOMPSON. it came out in 1949 and it is about a husband and wife and his girlfriend who are involved in an insurance scheme to burn down the small town GRINDHOUSE MOVIE THEATER they run which they stock with features from Independent release companies (akin to PRC and Monogram and Republic and even ROADSHOW stuff.)

it goes into deep and frankly fascinating detail about PROJECTION EQUIPMENT and the PROJECTIONISTS UNION, which could SHUT DOWN A THEATER BUT FAST over labor violations- real or otherwise. it's all a big racket with all the local moviehouses out to screw one another.

it's a whole BYGONE WORLD with all kinds of catches and snares- and seemed to be rather an intricate business left open to FATE in many ways. 

it had never occured to me, but of course there was a whole RACKET built around places that screened movies, I think more people went to the movies in the late forties than ever before or ever again.

anyhow, sorry to not answer your question- but if you'd like to know ALMOST EVERYTHING ELSE about OLD SCHOOL MOVIEHOUSES besides THE ADS (which the books makes no mention of) then this book is for you!

I had a friend in high school who ran the projector in local movie house.  Sometimes I would visit with him while he was working so can up close to how projecting was done in the 60's.  Ironically he was in the Air Force and trained to repair radars and so forth on planes.  When he got to Vietnam, they saw that he had run a movie projector, so he was assigned to do that at Tan Son Nhut Air Base outside of Saigon.

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52 minutes ago, Sepiatone said:

I don't think they were advertising hats there, Fedya.  ;)   Just a way to request female  patrons to remove large hats while in the theater.  Not the same as a commercial advertisement.   And like TIKI, I too, don't recall any ads for products of retail businesses before movies and/or movie trailers in theaters before the '80's.

Sepiatone

The local theaters in my hometown carried ads before movies, but they were simply stills, for the most part, advertising local merchants.  This was back in the late 60s and 70s.  All the screens in town (drive-ins included) were owned by the same company, so the ads were the same no matter which theater you went to.  The same company owned the cable company as well, and was previously part of the RKO-General conglomerate.

Curiously, there was also a blue neon clock in the corner of the auditorium of the largest house in town, sponsored by one of the banks.  It's the only theater I've ever seen that's had a clock in it, that I can recall.  That theater also did a "curtain show", but nothing as elaborate as the ones in big cities.  The El Capitan in Hollywood still does a curtain show today.

 

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1 hour ago, ElCid said:

I had a friend in high school who ran the projector in local movie house.  Sometimes I would visit with him while he was working so can up close to how projecting was done in the 60's.  Ironically he was in the Air Force and trained to repair radars and so forth on planes.  When he got to Vietnam, they saw that he had run a movie projector, so he was assigned to do that at Tan Son Nhut Air Base outside of Saigon.

Apparently running projection equipment takes quite a bit of focus and skill and if you’re not careful you can start a fire.

also, You might on occasion have to deal with a loose Tingler or The BLOB, and there’s **nothing** in the union contract about how to deal with that.

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6 hours ago, txfilmfan said:

The local theaters in my hometown carried ads before movies, but they were simply stills, for the most part, advertising local merchants.  This was back in the late 60s and 70s.  All the screens in town (drive-ins included) were owned by the same company, so the ads were the same no matter which theater you went to.  The same company owned the cable company as well, and was previously part of the RKO-General conglomerate.

Curiously, there was also a blue neon clock in the corner of the auditorium of the largest house in town, sponsored by one of the banks.  It's the only theater I've ever seen that's had a clock in it, that I can recall.  That theater also did a "curtain show", but nothing as elaborate as the ones in big cities.  The El Capitan in Hollywood still does a curtain show today.

 

So did mine, heard it dated back to the 1950's!  Was this model but the blue light showed up much better....

mid-1950s-elgin-watch-neon-lighted_1_e78

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18 hours ago, txfilmfan said:

That theater also did a "curtain show", but nothing as elaborate as the ones in big cities.  The El Capitan in Hollywood still does a curtain show today.

THANK YOU Txfilmfan for sharing that video! I have never seen anything like that before! Amazing! The asbestos curtain seemed to be specially lit, but I suspect it's just the florescent paints reflecting the spot lights.

Rome NY's vintage Capitol Theater projects slides advertising local businesses interspersed with vintage "Ladies remove your hat" slides. People are entertained by the organist playing the Mighty WurliTzer as a warm up while taking their seats. I sure miss the communal experience of seeing classic holiday movies in the theater with a big audience. I'd even watch ITS A WONDERFUL LIFE again, just to go there.

There's a few projectionists on this message board. I've sat in the booth during a movie and it's fascinating, especially with a carbon arc projector. One year, the movie dimmed during a scene-the light expired-and the projectionist had to scramble to change it. When the movie resumed, he got a rousing hand of applause! 

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2 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

THANK YOU Txfilmfan for sharing that video! I have never seen anything like that before! Amazing! The asbestos curtain seemed to be specially lit, but I suspect it's just the florescent paints reflecting the spot lights.

Rome NY's vintage Capitol Theater projects slides advertising local businesses interspersed with vintage "Ladies remove your hat" slides. People are entertained by the organist playing the Mighty WurliTzer as a warm up while taking their seats. I sure miss the communal experience of seeing classic holiday movies in the theater with a big audience. I'd even watch ITS A WONDERFUL LIFE again, just to go there.

There's a few projectionists on this message board. I've sat in the booth during a movie and it's fascinating, especially with a carbon arc projector. One year, the movie dimmed during a scene-the light expired-and the projectionist had to scramble to change it. When the movie resumed, he got a rousing hand of applause! 

The El Capitan also has a theater organ that rises up from the basement.  The TCM film festival occasionally uses the theater during the festival, but it's been a few years since they've done so.  The theater is owned by Disney.

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My theatre had simple colored lights SOFTLY lighting up the curtain.  Idea were to get the patrons to unwind before the showing. The old school way of presenting a movie was to dim them to off then open the curtain while the movie opens.  But that never happened for mine in decades, why give commercials that respect.

Modern cinemas, turn the projector on and forget.

 

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On 11/28/2020 at 9:32 AM, txfilmfan said:

The El Capitan also has a theater organ that rises up from the basement.  The TCM film festival occasionally uses the theater during the festival, but it's been a few years since they've done so.  The theater is owned by Disney.

The only theater in these parts that has an organ that rises not from the basement, but up from the orchestra pit is the old ROYAL OAK theater, which quit showing movies years ago but became a popular rock and music and entertainment venue.  I saw plenty of favorite music groups and artists perform there.  And comedian GALLAGHER.  But the "jazz/fusion" band WEATHER REPORT was the last time I saw that old Wurlitzer organ rise out of the pit.  The band's co-founder and keyboardist JOSEF  ZAWINUL  was playing it while it rose. 

There's a few other theater's that still have their old organs in use, but none of them rise up from anywhere.  And only one theater uses it for movie presentations.(the old REDFORD theater in Detroit also shows vintage "classic" movies on occasion)  And that theater also hosts an organization dedicated to old theater pipe organs, along with Detroit's old SENATE theater.

 

Sepiatone

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4 minutes ago, Sepiatone said:

The only theater in these parts that has an organ that rises not from the basement, but up from the orchestra pit is the old ROYAL OAK theater, which quit showing movies years ago but became a popular rock and music and entertainment venue.  I saw plenty of favorite music groups and artists perform there.  And comedian GALLAGHER.  But the "jazz/fusion" band WEATHER REPORT was the last time I saw that old Wurlitzer organ rise out of the pit.  The band's co-founder and keyboardist JOSEF  ZAWINUL  was playing it while it rose. 

There's a few other theater's that still have their old organs in use, but none of them rise up from anywhere.  And only one theater uses it for movie presentations.(the old REDFORD theater in Detroit also shows vintage "classic" movies on occasion)  And that theater also hosts an organization dedicated to old theater pipe organs, along with Detroit's old SENATE theater.

 

Sepiatone

Here's the El Capitan being played prior to the showing of Mary Poppins at the 2014 TCMFF.  I was in the audience for this showing, but I was down in the orchestra section, so this is not my video.  The actual organ concert was about 10 minutes long.

 

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Here's a video of The Capitol's organ rising from the pit. Oops, it's a Moeller organ, not a WurliTzer. You can see the asbestos curtain, more plain than most, but still made using florescent paints.

For the yearly showing of ITS A WONDERFUL LIFE the house organist wears a Santa suit. But Halloween is great-the house organist wears a black cape and there's dry ice mist as the organ rises-spooky!

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