Picture-Play Magazine (Mar-Aug 1926)

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The Movies Conquer New Worlds of Money 53 "Robin Hood," "Scaramouche" and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" are included in the list of pictures that have earned $2,000,000. Nowadays, pictures are divided into three different classes, instead of into two. First, as in the past, there are the road-show pictures, which are made usually at the rate of one a year by the bigger companies. "Ben-Hur," "The Big Parade," probably "The Vanishing American," and "A Viennese Medley" will be released in this fashion in a great many places, as well as Douglas Fairbanks' "The Black Pirate." Second — and this is a type of picture that seldom existed in former times — there is the film that may be booked for long engagements at regular picture theaters in the large cities, and shown in small towns for more than the usual two or three days. Such a picture frequently plays on a percentage basis — which means that both the producer and the exhibitor share in the boxoffice profits, and sometimes also in the expense of showing the picture. It is frequently shown at moderately advanced prices. Third, there is the program film, so called, which is generally good for a week's run each in New York, Chicago, Boston, St. Louis, S'an Francisco, and Los Angeles, and which is the regular fare of suburban and small-town theaters. It is the second class of picture which chiefly interests producers now. It is recognizedly the happy medium. It is this type of film that has helped to swell the million-dollar list in the movies. Striking examples during the past season or two are features like "Charley's Aunt," "Manhandled." "The Humming Bird," "Girl Shy," and more recently, "Don Q," "The Freshman," "The Merry Widow," "Little Annie Rooney," and others. Theaters suitable for this sort of picture entertainment will probably be developed in all sections of the country during the next few years. Mainly, of course, it is in the large cities that they exist now, but eventually, they will probably come into being also in certain of the lesser cities where movies are known to be genuinely popular. A picture that is shown in one of these houses will not, in certain cases, be seen in other theaters in the same community until months or perhaps a year later, as the admission price asked for first run of such a film is generally higher than that for the ordinary movie. The longer life of the big feature under this new regime is adding very materially to its profits. This is true both for the road show, and for the picture that is exhibited at the regulation picture houses at advanced prices. The case of "The Ten Commandments" in Los Angeles is an interesting example of the new tendency. In many cities, the film was, of course, shown as a road show, but in the Western film metropolis, it was exhibited at Grauman's Egyptian Theater — a playhouse already noted for the long engagements of its attractions — on a percentage basis. At this theater, it was shown twice daily for all of eight months, and was thereafter not released anywhere else in the vicinity of Los Angeles for more than a year. The number of people who attended [Continued on page 110] "Manhandled," "The Lost World" and Harold Lloyd's "Hot Water" are included in a long list of recent productions that ,a v.i have brought in $1,000,000.