Variety (Apr 1928)

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Wednesday, April 4, 1928 PICT U R E S VARIETY 9 RADIO HOUR AND (Reports from Variety's corre- spondents of effect oh theatres of the Dodge' Brothers' special Radio hoMr with picture staris on th^ air Thursday night (March 29). , Consensus of the report is that the hour held little opposition to the box-office,' with bad - weather at many points proving more costly. In the smaller towns, the hour was a theatre detractor. Installation of loud speakers in theatres proved a fair magnet, bui audiences almost without exception preferred regular performanceO New York-Broadway Weather Bad; Cold With. Steady Drizzle A check of Broadway houses at around niiie Thursday night, as the Dodge Hour started In .N.eyir York, found: 9 islmi'P—at Strahd ("Xoose"; 2d •week'): '■ .. Orchestra, two-thirds full; bal- cony, ono-half. •. 8:59—at Paramount (Red Hair"; Clara Bow"): Orchestra,^ loliby, stand put; balcony, c;ipacity; loges, capftcity. 9:14—at Roxy ("Jazz Sinfrer".; Vltaphone): Orchestra and balcony, standing; leges, ciipaclty. ' . 9:09—nt Capitol ("Big City"; Chaney): Orchestra, three-quarters; bal- *ony, one-half;.loges, capacity. . 9—at Rivoli ("Gaucho"; Fair- banks): , . Oi'chestra, two-thirds; balcony, one-flfth; loges, .one-half full. . . . 8:55—at Rialto ("Legion Con- demned"): Orchestra, one-third; balcony, one-half; ,lpgea, two-thirds full. No broadcast or loud speaker em- ployed In any of .above theiatres, Strand thought ot using loud speak- ers, having the.atre equipped, but decided interest had not (evidenced Itself sufficiently In radio special hour to warrant, effort and adver- tising. . New York neighborhood houses elaim were only slightly a:iTected by the radio hookup, and owners were more. inclined to attribute the dif- ference in grosses to the bad weather Thursday. Reports from neighborhood terri- tory. New Jersey, Staten Lsland, etc>, are that business was way off Thurs- day night. Report on twelve houses, operated by two men, correspond on this. Big drop In business Thurs- day, wiiich mj..nagers are unable to otherwise explain. iOemonstrations occurred at some small art theatres trying loud speak- ers. The radio had to be shut off and some money was refunded. '•Bird" in Boston Bcston. ■ The mot<t marked event theatrl- caljy about , tiie Dodge hour Thurs- day was. the bird given at the State. Other\visp the night, normally liglit, was about as usual. State heavily advertised a loud speaker. After 10 minutes of the coast colony stuff, the extra big audience started the razz, and the theatre 1iad to switch back to the .regular ppi'fdrmarice. . Baltimore Bir Hurt Baltimore, Md. ; The Valencia and Parkway were hooked up with the Dodge broad- cast. These are Loew-United Artists Other houses had nothing to offer the radio fans, ex- pected to suffer in consequence and did. The two theatres In the hook- up offset the drop that would have been inevitable had the hook-up not been the extra>-added. The audlencps! ,.reaction^, .to . the ._radlo- picture tie-up was something else. .Radio quality waia excellent. The consensus oit opinion here Is that It was a mistake to take the public behind the Hollywood scenes ftnd let tliem listen to entertainers whose talents aro essentially vis- ual. The D. B. program did hit the to.p. a wallop, both picture and legit. but the reaction wiU make It ifar easier for the exhibitors next time.: . Denver Placid Denyer. Dodge broadcast but slightly felt here. No theatre advertised nor used loud speaker for special air event. Program listened to by thpu.sands here. ■ .■'■.■'■ Frisco Not Interested San Francisco. Downtown, picture houses were little, if any, affected by.the Dodge radio program Thursday night,: Few of the neiglvbbrhood houses suf- fered. Oh the other hand, a num- ber of the smaller residential dis- trict picture houses that installed loud speakers and broadcast the program were little benellted in the way of Increased attendance.. The program was ..broadcast, here between 6 and 7,. customaiT dinner hour, when nioSt theatre .patrons are home anyway. The supper . hour crowds were about nonnal to slightly off on Market street. In the neigh- borhoods a few of the houses open at 6, but mostly around 7. None of the downtown first-run houses in- stalled lOud speakers, or in any way took cognizance of the broadcast. Bust in Rochester Rochester, . Api'il 3. . Dodge's miqvie star broadcast had no effect on local theatre attendance and where reproduced on a theatre stage, it was a distii.ct flop. At the Rochester^ the only house that in- stalled loud speakers, a heavy ballyhoo on the feature, fa'iled to clraw extraordinary attendance and was a frOst as entertainnient. The half-hour talk of Edward G. "Wilmer, president of the Dodge Co., explaining lio.w gpod his new standard six model was, was greeted with moans and boos. Be- fore thei program was finished with Douglas Fairbanks' address, the whole thing was yanked by switch- ing off the power. As the regular program resumed the audience seemed happier. . . Local managers say they have no fear of radio events of this char- acter. Okia City Off 25 Percent. . Oklahoma City. Film house attendance was off ahout 25 per cent. Thursday eve- ning, which may have,been due to the broadcast or to the . cold weather. No local house reproduced the film star air program. Even Break in K. C. - Kansas City. Show business during the Dodge Radio Hour was off at least 50 per cent. Night was stormy, which may have had its effect. Dodge program rebroadcast here and got publicity at S to 9 p. m. City time, it was Just when the shows were starting. A number of the leading sub- urban houses put in loud speakers and advertised the program strong- ly but did not better business much. None—of - the—downtown houses u.sed the program, although the Midland installed a.receiving set in the lounge room, audience's displeasure was. so ob- •vious they discontinued , the pro- gram, . This also, happened at Lbcw's State, only they waited till Barrymore was on the They don't .want i-adio advertising stiints mixed with .their amuse- ments in this burg. Buffalo Didn't KriOvy Buffalo, N. Y. The Victory Hour tie-up Thurs- day night ,had no effect whatsoever on busine.'^s at picture hpuse.s here, None of the local stations carried the Dodge tie-up and there was a minimum of advertising ^ of the feature in the local newspapers. One result was that the big miajorlty of fans did not even know the. hour was on. None of the local houses Installed loud speakers and got a good break, due to the fact that the reception was so poor Thursday night that pra.ctlcally none of the Dodge feat- ure was: heard here, Outside of Whlteman and Fairbanks the broadcasting was "aiiS TtaTic^^ was so'Hejvvyli;s7to' ma the entire program almost Inaudible, Memphis Flop Memphis. Dodge Bros. Hour was a flop. Loew's State and Loew's Palace an- nounced the program and carried ads In the dally papers. But when Norm.i Talmartgf began to talk the Detroit Depressed Detroit. The Dodge-U". A. program had a depressing effect on theaitre busi- ness. The broadcast joined with a snowstorm. ■ Grosses of the lo-rge downtown stands went considerably under the Thursday average; the lesseiv out- lying houses were hardest hit. The United Artists Tlveatre, only downtown place to install a receiv- ing iset, played to capacity in con-, trast to surroundirg biz. Weather conditions caused poor reception., audience snickering at the ' static throughout the program. Kunsky office reported, attendance greatly diminished at the Capitol and. Michigan, presentation thea- tres. Thursday showed a dent in an otherwise exceptional Week at tlie Mich. . Oriental and . State, vaudefilms, both off, while K-A's Temple re- ported little under normal. Windsor, Ont.i reported a great depression, as did the smaller nearby Canadian towns. The latter were believed more soundly walloped than many of. the townships in this section of the ..:Sta,tes. Legits were not noticeably, af- fected, their business haying been consistently off anyway. Utica, "Never Again" Utick, N. Y. Local theatres were but little af- fected, by the Dodge , hour. Recep- tion here was terrible, with WJZ static-loaded, same for KDKA. Some sets brought the program in clearly from Detroit, but even then it was a disappointment.. Early in L. A. Los Angeles, Dodge Brothers' hour was early in the evening for Los Angeles. The neighborhood houses felt it a bit on their first shows, but the second shows were better on the evening than regularly. At the downtown houses trade was about 26 per cent below regu- lar Thursdays >vlth the exception of the United Artists. That house, having a new picture in, held up above normal- Reports from outlying towns gave .business as normal, and in some in- stances better. Mute in Evansvllle EvansvlUe, Ind; Loew's Victory here advertised loud speaker and 2,400-seat house was near capacity by 8 p. m, But- static so bad manager was never able to let audiencft^ hear. Loud speaker in prop room ready to go on bellowed and roared all during the hour. "Never again," says the manager. Same static condi- tion.s prevailed all over the city. Razzed in Chicago Houses Chicago. "^Ch ir,airo'iifje5H't~like:'raxlio" -entcr^ tainm.ent mixed with its movie menus, even if the screen celebs themselves a,re doing the ing. At Chicago the United Artists' theatre in the Loop, the Lubliner and Trinz theatres, .scattered In the neighborhoods, and the Illinois grPup, knovyn as the Great States ; chain, put radio loudTspeakers In their to pick up the Dodge radio hour. In their own theatre. United Artists were "razzed" by terrific applause. Showmen present attributed the un- p()pul;U:ity to the dryness of the pro- gram and the length of the talks during which nothing much of any- thin,'; was said that could be termed intcrf.'stlng. When the president of the Dodge compat-y went on with a lengthy talk about his cars several people left the theatre and de- manded refunds. Norma. Talmadge's taJk_on fa.shlon was^opcnly razzed. 'TlTcyT~ip;ld" soWe'^Kbea"^^ Falrbank.s and his chatter about op- timism, Olympic games, etc Paul Whitoman's band on the radio route sounded very good. Following the tnlk by Miss Tal- madge the audience In the local U. A. house went Into heavy ap- plause and was rewarded .bT the or- che.«trA drowning out the music and the. innnediate'. screenin.g of Mary Pickford in "My Best Girl." T.'ilks were , noticeably weak , and opinion wa.s the hour coulid have been cffoctiyely cut to half that time, with better roglstratlon... Practically the sar av result was reported In other houses trying the experiment. • In Chicago generally, reception of. the entire program was 'i)erfect. Wilkes-Barre Dailies Sensible Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Effect of the Dodge radio program on local theatres Thursday night was to cut down the attendance at the legitimate theatre about 25 per cent, scmewhat less at the vaude- ville house and hit . the picture iiouses hard iexcept at the Capitol, which played to capacity with Chap- lin "Circus." None of the houses installed loud- speakers and there was ho adver- tising, of. the radio programs except a line in the .daily radio pi'ograms. Local papers relusc to print pro- grams or comrPent on special fea- tures except at regular advertising rates claiming . It is discrinilnation F aihst local amusement houses and they do. not feel disposed to lend their columns for free advertising to corporations that are able to. pay thousands of dollars for entertain- ers and erp-vct hundreds of thou- sands Of dollars free advertising from newspapers. Scranton 50 Percent Off Scranton, Pa. Local showhoiises felt keenly tlie effect of the .Dodge broad.casting Thursday, with business in all of the central city theatres estimated at over 50 percent off. None of the theatres installed loud speakers. Milwaukee Felt It . . Milwaukee. Theatre men of this, town knew the Dodges were putting on a sec- ond big radio night. All they had to do was look at the sheet. Business In the thea tres was far off and most of It blamed on the radio hour. Two houses, Brin's Garden and Universal's Alhambra, advertised loud speakers. The Garden haa Vitaphone. .. Wliat happened Is a mystery. A local station was on the NBC network and relayed the program perfectly, but both theatres had to call off the receiving before half was oyer, duo to Interference. High-tension wlreis in the dowTitown section may have had some bearing on the reception. At least, catcalls and even, kicks to the management over the squeals and squawks caused the pulling and the plctiu'c programs continued; However, the houses failed to dis- appoint very many patrons, because only a few were on hand. The Gar- den gross for the night did not ex- ceed $400 and the Alhambra not much more. As on the first radio night run by Dodge, show business was hard hit, but the public was not as pleased, from rcportft; as wilh t1)n first pro- gram. AVednesday and Friday -were big, but Thursday off. . ■ Neighborhood houses reportod no effect. No local tieups. Nothing Either Way The radio broadcast Thursday of United Artists stars ha<l no effect on any local theatre, either those broadcasting the entertainment from the stage or others. Aldine was the only downtown house, to use .a radio on its stage, and"j.s, off all week, . didn't iniproye or. become, worse,. although the radio program was well adver- ti.sod. . ■ Rainy night, with .lightning static unloading the coal, impaired recop- tion. • All theatres did the usual, as compared with other nights of the' week and the quality of the show, minus the rain, wMch .slack- ened atlr-ndanco, and Lent. Vita Outpulls Radio Hpiiston, T*'X. • Loew's State wasj- only hoUse hero to loud-speaker the Dodge radio event .and found it pulled no businc.'is, 'Tlie ..Kirby, witii . V itar phone, did better gross than day before, Avliilo Motropolltan, Publix de. luxe,. renia[nod • ulu'haiiged■■ in b. o, total. Majestic-:(intei;.'?tate.) felt the competition slightly, while the stocic company at the Palace was noticeably affected. ' • • - is .unanimous that the Dodge radio program \yas dull en- tertainment. Toledo's Terrible : Weather , .Toledo, April 3. . Loew's. Valentino reproduced Vic- tory Hour program, only house here to tune in. : ■ • All houses did average business considering the terrible weather. Portland, Ore., Unchanged Portland, The Dodge Radio hour came In here Thursday between filx_ and "scvenTnPt" an^^ Universal got the best of It by using loud speakers in nine neigh- borhood houses. Albany Burlesque Off ,:■ '; Albany, ' N. Y... Dodge Brothers Victory Hour Thursday did not interferie wilh the theatres here, according to reports. The local burlesque felt droii. Neighborhood hou^iies also had .slight. falling off;.. Thursday night Is the poorest, night for show busi- ness in Albany. Springfield Springfield, Mafls. Only one house, the Broadway (■films), reported the Victory Hour had s'^-rlout effect on business, Des Moines Figuring ■ . ■ Des Moines. Attend.'ince Thursday evening cut by storm and rough weather ahy- how, making it dlfllcult to figure effect Upon, attehdancis of .Dodge radio hour. Managers freely ! ad- mitted It was a great night for slippers, fireside and the dials; . Burton Holmes, with travel lec- ture, drew a good crowd to the Shrine "rcmple, competition that would under the best circumstances have reduced local patronage at the regular theatres. No one of the theatres reproduced thi? Victory Hour. Cincinnati; B. O. Hurt Cincinnati. Both downtown and suburban picture theatres suffered during the Dodge Bros, broadcast, which was linked with local; station/ On the contrary Shuhert, Grand (legit), and Empress (burlesque), did one Of the best grosses of the week In spite of the rain. Severe electrical storm raged and static Interfered with reception. Radio editors of dailies were unanr imous in stamping the; ether ■fea- ture as a .flop.- In their opinion, more fans heard other radio fea- tures such as Tunney-Dempsey fight, world series and autumn foot- ball games. Vaude and film, house managers were .unable to weigh comparative influence .(jf storm and air program. Bad Weather in Topeka . Topeka. It was cold and snow was fall v Thur.sday .evening, giving the Do( -c h0ur-cver-y chan go to-Gut4nto -tliKa^- tre p.atronage. Picture houses were thinly attended in the early eve- nings, as they would iiave been in any event jh such weather. . Vaudeville thoatrca did about two-tliirds normal. No tli.oa- tre tuned in for stage repimluc- tloni of the air fjtuff. ■ • : Og.dch Has No Kick . Ogdcn, riah. • •More than, half local theMt::.(s in-, stalled loud speakers on Hiojces for Dpdgo Victory hour. Wealli'-r was terrible,' but. liouse managi is . ex- pres.-j belief radio feature Iwlped ■business, Newark Weather .Newark, N. J. Any c.iliiilatlon of .the i.::iiiMint of the cut Ifjlo .att'-ndance Thurs- day night 'by the-Dodge ll'-ur is comiJllcatod by the fact It rained.' nHi^:"mglTfr^t=Tlirtli(r^gPhi^ ion there. .W.'iS no drop diAvMown. One house was better Tli •■^-..lay than rviday,-although the r< verso Is usually true. The nclgliborhood nro be- lieved to have Buffered a liltli-. N'o house arlVL-rtised a loud s))' ki-r. There was an. unusual de.ui coumii-nt (in th*; Yilti f'.-jture,