Boxoffice barometer (1944)

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P limit SEITISC A MOST INTIMATE PROVISION FOR THE PERSONAL COMFORT OF MOVIE PATRONS No Stortling Changes Foreseen for Theatre Seating theatre seating industry, now so busily preoccupied with producing a variety of war materials — from beds to munitions— is also anticipating a mass return to civilian production within a short time after the cessation of hostilities in Europe. Recognizing a great civilian need and almost instant demand for its products, this industry is looking forward to reconversion with great interest and no little planning. It is expected now that the return to civilian production will be gradual and that products will be along the 1942 model lines with but few changes for some time. There will be less variety in models also, inasmuch as only the best of the prewar products will be manufactured in the early postwar era. New Designs Next Striking new designs and developments will come after the first demand has been filled, however, and some of these are now on the drafting boards. Their production at the start of civilian manufacture though would act more as a bottle-neck, inasmuch as the need for new tools and dies probably could not be filled for some time. Therefore, reconversion will assume a gradual trend and the attempt will be made to fulfill the most necessary demand before anything unusual in the way of new product is brought forth. This is all to the good for the theatre industry, which consumes an enormous amount of public seating product. Replacements for already existing theatres will be available shortly, yet those who wish may await the postwar designs with assurance that they too will be available within a year or so after the war has ended on both sides of the world. Prewar theatre seating of the 1941-2 variety was excellent and as these same mod els will be produced within a short time after civilian production resumes, we have nothing to be troubled about. Theatre chairs had approached a peak of beauty, comfortability and durability. As soon as the raw materials for their construction are available to the manufacturers of theatre chairs, we may be certain that the same excellence of product will be resumed again. As to postwar designs, they probably will not differ greatly from what we had just before the war, except possibly for refinements in the application of such new materials as plastics and a number of new upholstery fabric developments. Chairs will still be chairs. They will have approximately the same form and occupy the same relative space; perhaps a bit more for the sake of comfort. Those who are planning new theatre seating installations will do well to bear this in mind at all times. Seating Has Suffered The war years have been very hard on theatre seating. Not only has patronage been extra heavy, with a resultant wear and tear on the well-used seats; but there was an almost inevitable outbreak of vandalism in overcrowded and under-manned theatres which took a heavy toll in seat-cutting and other damage to this irreplaceable item. Most theatres will need new chairs — and badly as soon as they can get them. It appears too that a greater number of seats will be needed than ever before. The movie-going habit has received great impetus in these war years, and if it is to be maintained after the war when the boys return from overseas, a vastly increased number of seats will be required to accommodate the increased patronage. Yet, not only greater quantity will be necessary, but also greater quality. Patrons have been content to sit on worn-out and uncomfortable theatre seats for the “duration.” But these same patrons will be quick to complain to high heaven if they be forced to occupy these same chairs after the war is over. When the customer again becomes “always right,” it will be found that he also becomes more demanding. People have put up with a lot of discomfort and distaste in the past few years; but they will not continue to take it when commodities are again available and plentiful. The theatre which offers the most comfort and convenience will be the one the public favors, after years in which these things were put at a premium. Most of our present theatres are going to require remodeling and modernization. One of the most important elements of these plans should be reseating. In fact, with emphasis upon the seating situation, many of our present theatres can be remodeled to provide for more seats by enlarging the auditorium, ramping and so forth. Yet more seats should never be provided at the sacrifice of valuable knee-room between rows. It must be remembered that a satisfactory seating arrangement also takes into consideration the space between rows for passage and comfortable relaxation without crowding. Advance Planning Theatres planned for postwar erection (Continued on page 47) MAINTENANCE NECESSARY STEPS TO PRESERVE APPEARANCE AND COMFORT IN THEATRE SEATING. 10. Inspect auditorium chairs regularly, seat by seat. Use a check list of points to be repaired and have repairs made immediately. Keep standards tightly fastened to the floor. If the floor is brittle, a quick-setting cement should be used, or anchorage can be obtained by using longer toggle or expansion bolts. Tighten all loose seat and back attachments, but use wrench and screw-driver with care to avoid leaving scratches or clothes-tearing sharp edges. Inspect seat hinges and open and fold chairs to determine if there is any noise. Chair hinges need occasional lubrication but care should be taken to avoid soiling upholstery. Imitation leather upholstery should be cleaned thoroughly every six months with mild soap and water, then dried and waxed with a protective finish to preserve elasticity and prolong life. Fabric upholstery should be cleaned often with brush and vacuum cleaner and yearly with a dry or foam-cleaning fluid. Periodically, interchange the seats in the auditorium, moving those which are over-used to locations less favored. This will increase the overall life of the seating installation. Keep a supply of covers of various sizes to re-cover cut seats. Patching is not a permanent repair but it prevents holes from being enlarged. Metal and wood parts of theatre chairs should be cleaned frequently and given a protective coating of wax. Damaged chairs should be repaired at once. Clothing damage costs money and creates dissatisfaction. Check carefully for clothes-tearing h'azards at least once a week. 44 The MODERN THEATRE SECTION