A "roadshow" was a special
showing of a major film. Even though this type of presentation was around
since the silent era, David O. Selznick set the standard for the "roadshow"
presentation in 1939 with Gone With the Wind. It was called "showmanship."
The criteria for a roadshow was:
*A beautiful theater
*At least 100 miles apart
*No popcorn, expensive candy bars
*Courteous ushers and usherettes
Here's a normal "roadshow" presentation.
Upon entering, the audience was to see nothing but a huge curtain and
listen to parlor music, called an overture. The curtain was to open
to the studio logo, no trailers. The film was to be shown in a larger
format such as 65mm or 70mm instead of the normal 35mm. There would
be an intermission where the curtain would close. The audience was never
to see a blank screen. Music would start back up a few minutes before
the second half would start so everyone would know to take their seats.
Then, at the end of the film, the curtains would close and exit music
would be played. This was to give the atmosphere of an elegant presentation.
Because these were special presentations on a larger format than normal,
the theaters were able to charge more than the normal admission fee.
Special advertising materials were created to show that these were not
the regular presentation. Roadshow advertising material quite often
was more beautiful than the normal posters.
The best way to identify "roadshow" material was to look for
special enlarged format logos on the posters, such as Todd-AO, 65mm
presentation, 70mm presentation, etc.
The sample below is a roadshow
six sheet for the 1963 blockbuster Cleopatra.
(photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions)
Roadshow materials were issued in all of the standard sizes. They can
be either original release or re-issue, depending on the schedule of the
roadshow. When original materials were used, they would include a snipe
indicating "Limited Engagement," or other indication of roadshow