Thursday, May 11, 2017

1966 ads for the Rialto: Louisville's million dollar movie palace

When this ad appeared in the Courier-Journal on January 23, 1966, The Sound of Music had been playing the Rialto since the previous April in an exclusive roadshow engagement and it was showing no signs of slowing down. Meanwhile, Doctor Zhivago, the other really big film of 1965, would have to wait several more months to play Louisville. I can't imagine MGM being too happy about that. It's possible they wanted the biggest theater possible; the United Artists and Penthouse were about 40-50% smaller.  (The Penthouse had been the United Artists' balcony).
 And then the Academy Awards nominations were announced.  This ad appeared February 27, 1966.
                                       After church, let's go see The Sound of Music. Again. April 3, 1966.
And then it won Best Picture of the Year. And still no one in Louisville had seen Dr. Zhivago, which won six Oscars, and was nominated for Best Picture.  April 24, 1966.
By May 15, 1966, it was in its 58th week at the Rialto. Hopefully they had replaced the print a few times by then.

I once met Robert Wise around 2000 when he visited DreamWorks, the studio where I was working at the time.  He was very charming, very easy to talk to. I told him The Sound of Music played the Rialto over a year.  It turns out he was acquainted with the theater since he grew up in Indiana and occasionally visited Louisville. Even all those years later, he was quite touched to learn his movie played there over a year. 
Finally, the Rialto was ready to officially let the good doctor in.  This ad is from June 12, 1966. 
  
On June 19th this ad appeared. 
Meanwhile, the Sound of Music had entered its 63rd week. 
  
The Sound of Music did not go from roadshow to a standard run as you would expect but continued as a roadshow engagement at the Penthouse directly across the street.  At 900 seats, the Penthouse was smaller than the Rialto but still large enough that the potential for a continued healthy box office.  It continued there for several more months before finally giving up its reserved seat prices for the smaller Ohio in early 1967, which is where I finally saw it when I was in the eighth grade.  This full-page ad appeared in the Courier-Journal June 26, 1966.

At that point, Dr. Zhivago stretched out into the wide cavernous spaces of the Rialto and enjoyed its own long run which ran on and on through the end of the year. Though The Sound of Music played the Rialto in 70mm, Dr. Zhivago did not, though it did play 70mm engagements in many big theaters across the country. I'm sure there was a good reason for it.  This ad ran  in July 24, 1966.
                                                 This fabulous ad appeared October 16, 1966.
                      This new ad featuring the spectacular Moscow set appeared October 30, 1966.
                                                     This unusual ad ran November 13, 1966.
Here's another one of those fancifully decorated ads by someone at the Courier-Journal art department that ran on Christmas Day, 1966.

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