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Long-running American films at UK showcase cinemas and quota

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  • Long-running American films at UK showcase cinemas and quota

    I'm hoping someone can answer this.

    In the late 1950s the London showcases were dominated by long runs (sometimes for more than a year) of Hollywood films.

    How did these cinemas go about meeting their quota obligations?

  • #2
    Some cinemas reputedly used to just show British film when only the cleaners were there to meet their quota obligations

    Steve

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    • #3
      I've heard about 7-hour late night shows at the Ritz where two British features were shown back to back with newsreels and shorts to compensate for their continuous screenings of 'Gone with the Wind' during the war - but surely this wasn't happening in the '50s.

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      • #4
        I remember the Odeon, Hanley, showing The Sound of Music for an amazing twelve months from December, 1965 to December, 1966, presumably running the same 70mm Todd-AO print for a year. I went there to see it in February, 1966, and there was nothing on with it except a reel of Rank Screen Advertising adverts (I remember one for Tuff boots filmed on a building site). So, as The Sound of Music was an American film (albeit filmed in Austria), how did the Odeon manage their Quota obligations for a year? It was the first time I’d seen a 70mm film and the first time I’d heard stereophonic sound in a cinema.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by darrenburnfan View Post
          I remember the Odeon, Hanley, showing The Sound of Music for an amazing twelve months from December, 1965 to December, 1966, presumably running the same 70mm Todd-AO print for a year. I went there to see it in February, 1966, and there was nothing on with it except a reel of Rank Screen Advertising adverts (I remember one for Tuff boots filmed on a building site). So, as The Sound of Music was an American film (albeit filmed in Austria), how did the Odeon manage their Quota obligations for a year? It was the first time I’d seen a 70mm film and the first time I’d heard stereophonic sound in a cinema.
          The Odeon in Edinburgh had a similar run of The Sound of Music. My grandmother, who I suppose nowadays would be regarded as suffering from Alzheimer's disease, saw the film thinking it was a different one several times and used to come back saying she'd been to see another film with Julie Andrews and those lovely children.

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          • #6
            Quota only applied to 35mm. The first long roadshow run in the West End in the fifties was Around the World in 80 Days at the Astoria Charing Cross Road. This was the second film in Todd AO (70mm), but no UK cinema was equipped for 70mm and it was shown at the Astoria in a 35mm system called Cinestage which was a non-standard anamorphc system giving an on screen ratio of 2.20:1 (the same as 70mm). To avoid quota regulations curtailing the run 1mm was shaved off the print and the film was thus shown in 34mm and was quota exempt! The Board of Trade sent inspectors to the cinema at least twice during the two year run to check that they really were showing a 34mm print. I imagine the BoT expressed it's displeasure at this subterfuge, as it was never tried again. The following year (1958) 70mm arrived in the UK with South Pacific, and these presentations were also quota exempt. Long runs of foreign films in 35mm were not possible and one that suffered from this was Gigi, which opened at the new Columbia Shaftesbury Avenue and transferred after 34 weeks to the Ritz Leicester Square where it played for a further 37 weeks and then came off on June 15th 1959 for quota reasons. The Ritz actually stated in their advertising that this was why the film was finishing and they spent the rest of the year showing British films (Village of the Damned/Dentist in the Chair/Doctor in Love/Two Way Stretch/Please Turn Over/Carry On Nurse).

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            • #7
              Double thumbs up for that Odeonman - it was the Ritz situation with 'Gigi' that caused me to ask the question in the first place.

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