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HERALD FEATURES

i

An Au s tr alian audience sees the CinemaScope film

"The Robe."

FIRST YEAR OF

CINEMASCOPE

By À Staff Correspondent In London

CINEMASCOPE, ^ handsome "wide boy"

of the cinema, is now a year old. Quite an infant, in fact. But one of great fulfilment and even greater promise.

The measure of Cinema Scope's swift success - un- paralleled in the history of en- tertainment-can be summed up-in two paragraphs:

. It has already established itself in every country outside the-"Iron Curtain," with a pre- sent total of 11,500 cinemas. This is an investment of £stg30 million in equipment

alone.

Excepting Paramount (using its own wide-screen system, VistaVision) every major Hollywood company is mak- ing films in CinomaScope, and producers in .other countries are beginning to fall into line.

There will be 114 features completed in Hollywood by the end of this year, and the 1955 total is expected to be at least 150, about half the entire output.

"The Robe," the first pro- duction in the anamorphic system" with stereophonic sound, will shortly surpass "Gone With the Wind" as the m6st successful film ever made. Constant revivals have so far helped "G.W.T.W." to gross 26,000,000 dollars.

"The Robe" has already ex- ceeded 20 million dollars and is still doing avalanche busi- ness ' on a global basis. Its American receipts - ' 15,000,000 dollars in hand and

an estimated 10,000,000 dol- lars to come-are a box-office miracle.

[In its 17 weeks' run at Sydney's Regent Theatre more than 395,500 people saw "The Robe," which last Saturday began its release fo 42 suburban theatres equipped for Cinemascope.]

In Great Britain, although results have been a bitter dis

appointment, seven million people have seen it in 159 cinemas. It has shattered re- cords all over Europe, Asia and South America.

Spyros Skouras, president of 20th Century-Fox, staked the company's future on Cinemascope.

AT first the world's cinema

owners applauded the new system, but were fright- ened by the cost involved in re-equipping their theatres.

The success of "The Robe"

won many of them over, es- pecially in America, which now has 10,000 CinemaScopc houses (two-thirds of the total) and is adding to them every day.

Great Britain has not proved anything like the goldmine

20th-Fox had reason to ex-

pect. Only 500 British cine- mas (one in nine) can show CinemaScopc. The rest, which embrace all major cir- cuits, including J. Arthur Rank's pre-eminent Odeon Gaumont group, have either cold-shouldered CinemaScopc

complciely or have equipped a few theatres in key positions throughout the country and then refused to equip others.

There are reasons for this. First, from December on- wards, all Mr. Rank's pictures -representing about one quarter of Britain's total

production-will be made im VistaVision, the Paramount wide-screen stereophonic sys- tem, which, 'unlike Cinema Scope, can be shown on any sized screen, in any cinema, without additional cost to the

exhibitor.

Secondly, British films are booming. Quantitatively and financially, they are enjoying their most prosperous period for a decade. They have earned this by deliberately eschewing all the new-fangled systems of production or presentation. At such a time, say British film men, it would be folly to swap horses.

ELSEWHERE Cinema

Scope is not only attract- ing back to the box-office the legions who stampeded to tele- vision and the "missing mil- lions" who have not seen films for years, but also is bringing in people who have never seen a film at all. This particularly applies to parts of Asia and

South America.

The number of Hollywood sponsored CinemaScope pic- tures at present in various stages on production or pre- paration is impressive: 20th Fox, 47; Warner Bros., 15; Independent Producers, 24; M.G.M., 11; Universal Inter- national, 8; Columbia, 4; Wait

- * * * * A. . . - ?. ~ ^*AAAA.AA^

Disney, 2; Allied Artists, 2; United Artists, 2.

20th Fox is to spend 55 million dollars on its pro- gramme. It is currently shoot- ing six films: "There's No Business Like Show Business," "Desiree," "Daddy Long-legs," "Untamed" and "Prince of Players," representing a com- bined budget of 21 million

dollars.

The company will shortly release its first Australian Cinemascope feature, "Long John Silver," starring Robert Newton and Connie Gil- christ; and its first two British productions, "That Lady" (Olivia de Havilland, Gilbert Roland, Denis Price, Fran- çoise Rosay) and "The Black Prince" (Errol Flynn, Peter Finch, Joanne Dru).

Efforts to persuade British producers to use Cinemascope for the world market have had one success. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, of "Red Shoes" and "Tales of Hoffmann," arc preparing a picture of the Battle of the River Plate, which resulted in the scuttling of the German battleship, Graf Spec.

The Italians, most enterpris- ing of all contemporary film- makers, are getting ready to focus all-embracing Cinema Scope on everything in sight.

Digitisation generously supported by
Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation
Digitisation generously supported by

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