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Author Topic: Nostalgia
Ian Price

 - posted 05-30-1999 03:48 AM            Edit/Delete Post 
Star Wars Episode 4 came out in May 1977. I was 14 years old. It played
in one theatre in Denver. The Cooper had 850 seats. You could smoke in
the balcony. That first week the theatre was empty because no one had
discovered Star Wars yet. After the first week, word had gotten out. There
were lines around the block. My mother wanted to see the film. I took the
bus to the cooper at 9:30 am and stood in line. I purchased our tickets for
the 1:00 p.m. show right after the 10:00 am show sold out. I stood in the
ticket holder line for two hours until my mother showed up. This didn’t
seem like too much of an ordeal. The movie was exclusive at the Cooper
for 6 weeks. It played that theatre for something like 9 months. The
Cooper ran the film in 70mm 6-track Dolby. They ran reel to reel with
carbon arc lamphouses. I saw Star Wars 4 times that year. Was Denver
that small in 1977?

I waited for the sequels to play at the Cooper because it was the best
movie theatre I have ever seen. They tore it down 4 years ago and there is
now a Barnes and Noble there. The Cooper had Norelco AA2s. The
speakers were Altec Lansing A4s. There were 5 behind the screen and
there were A4s let in to the walls as surrounds. The screen got 50% larger
when they were running 70mm.

Joe Redifer

 - posted 05-30-1999 03:49 AM            Edit/Delete Post 
I really liked how the Cooper's screen was stained yellow from all the
smoking that used to be allowed there. I think the last movie I saw on that
screen was "Spaceballs". Those Cinerama screens were insanely curved
(more so than the Continental, or at least it seemed). It definitely was a
nicer theatre, even considering the Cont's remodel.

When will companies learn and begin to build HUGE screens like they
used to in the old days? Not this crap like the Denver Pavillions and the
UA Colorado Center where the screen is big but the throw is so short that
you can't even focus the xenon bulb without having extremely dark corners!
70mm is dead. Oh this is sad. Is the exhibition industry getting worse over
time, despite the latest advancements in technology? I believe that maybe it
is, but it doesn't have to.

Mitchell Cope

 - posted 05-30-1999 03:49 AM            Edit/Delete Post 
I'm reading a book called "Widescreen Cinema". I don't have the book in
front of me or I would give you the author's name. Its point seems to be
that Cinerama and Todd-AO were all developed outside of the industry.
The industry in the late 50's could only agree on what the author calls a
"poor man's CinemaScope", a 35mm widescreen process without the
original stereo sound offered by CinemaScope. What I didn't know was
that 20th Century-Fox had actually developed a 70mm system called
Grandeur back in the late 20's. The industry would accept the addition of
sound, but not a new film standard. (Another point of the book I found
fascinating was that WEEKLY audience attendance in the late 20's (before
sound) and through the war was 90 million! Sound didn't actually help or
hurt audience attendance at that time. By the early 60's, weekly audience
attendance was down around 16 million. I don't think we fully appreciate
how important movies were to the country in the early part of this century.)

Ian Price

 - posted 05-30-1999 03:50 AM            Edit/Delete Post 
I had this statistic thrown at me by an older theatre manager a few years
ago. Per capita movie consumption in the US in the late 50s was 26 films
per year. That is one film every two weeks for every man, woman & child
in the United States. Per capita movie consumption by the early 80s had
declined to 4 films per year. They think that only 30% of the population go
to movie theatres any more. This means that everybody who is going to the
theatres is only seeing 16 films a year. What has happened is there is more
competition for our eyeballs. Our choices are TV, computers, plays, the
gym, video games, and would you believe books. The thinking is that the
per capita movie consumption number is only going to shrink. The only
saving grace has been the increase in population in the United States.

All statistics in this piece are conjecture and hearsay. I wouldn’t treat it a
gospel. If anybody has any real statistics, please chime in.

Stephen Winner

 - posted 05-30-1999 03:50 AM            Edit/Delete Post 
I can definitely agree to this! Our house was designed to house 1400
guests, but hasn't had that many people in it in years. At best, we'll get
about 800 to 1000 on a really good night.

You are right about the "distractions" though. With TV, Satellites, VCR's,
Computers, etc, it's easy to get your fill of motion pictures these
the point of overwhelming you.

Back in the Pre-TV days though there was a lot more at the movies than a
long TV program. You had live music & actors on stage, news reels,
cartoons, and the feature film on a typical ticket. Plus the atmosphere was
much more special (and still is at our house!)

Movies were a technological marvel, and to produce sound and pictures
big enough for thousands of people to see at one time was quiet a feat.
Couple this with the elaborate decorations inside the theatre, gourmet
foods in the lobby, not just snacks, and big elaborate marquees and
flashing lights outside, the movie theatre used to be much more than it is

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