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Read The Book and ignore the stuff below

Comment from your Curator:

I would like to thank David Johnson of Sydney, Australia, for providing the original booklet which is contained in this section. While essentially a technical publication, sometimes highly technical, sometimes not so, it is also a bit of a time capsule of the birth of CinemaScope theatre installations. Exhibitors' fears and concerns, and adverse (and false) publicity from Paramount Pictures are addressed in the opening section, "What Is CinemaScope", regarding both the CinemaScope image and its fully developed magnetic stereophonic sound system.

In reading the booklet I was impressed with the thoroughness with which the 20th Century-Fox engineering staff treated the project, taking it from concept to a fully realized new theatre format, with two feature pictures in the can, in approximately 9 months. CinemaScope was an expensive system to install and there was tremendous resistance from exhibitors to buy the complete package consisting of lenses, sprockets, aperture plates, magnetic sound pickups and amplifiers, speakers, and a new giant screen. Exhibitors were concerned that CinemaScope might be a flash in the pan and they'd be out tens of thousands of dollars. Had they known that the system would survive for nearly fifty years they might well have embraced the entire package more readily, assuring the use of magnetic stereophonic sound in virtually every theatre on the planet.

In the text covering the wiring of sound channels it becomes apparent that Fox had plans to more fully develop the four channel sound system to include directional surround from the effects channel, rather than simply having the auditorium left, right, and rear speakers play the same audio information. It is mentioned that the single surround channel was a temporary expedient. Exhibitor resistance to spending the money on stereophonic sound doubtless is the reason further development was not pushed forward.

Fox took a tremendous gamble with CinemaScope and committed to produce all their films in the new process in order to assure exhibitors that there would be continuing availability of wide screen films. The immediate adoption of CinemaScope by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer must have been a strong reassurance in those early days. Warner Bros. and Columbia pictures also signed contracts, but not with nearly the committment exhibited by Fox and M-G-M.

I hope you find the contents of the booklet of interest.


Read The Booklet

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