Friday, February 19, 2010

Pictures in Cincinnati Music Halls

This account of the opening of a new picture theater in Cincinnati demonstrates that by 1913 the idea of the picture palace was already well on its way to realization.
Pictures in Cincinnati Music Halls

Arthur Smallwood Plans Big Project for the Queen City's
Mammoth Palace of Amusements.

If the plans of Arthur Smallwood are successful, Cincinnati will have a picture show par excellence. This energetic young man, whose home is in Cincinnati, but who has been engaged in the advertising business in New York for the past few years, has secured a lease of the big Music Hall on Elm Street in that city and will put on a strong picture program beginning March 29.

Music Hall is one of the largest auditoriums in the country, seating several thousand people, and is used for grand opera and other big musical entertainments. The picture entertainment will be conducted by the Empire Exhibition Company, which was promoted by Mr. Smallwood and is under his management. Several large Cincinnati capitalists are interested, so there will be no lack of funds to finance the enterprise.

The picture program will consist of eight reels of the best pictures including features and single reels. This will be varied by vocal and instrumental solos by the best of talent, and a fourteen piece orchestra will play the pictures.

A feature of the program will be the frequent appearance of popular photoplayers. For the opening week Mr. Francis X. Bushman, a former Essanay star, has been secured. For the week of April 7 Mr. John Bunny, the popular comedy man of the Vitagraph Company, will be the feature, and during the following week Miss Florence Turner, the first of the motion picture stars and a Vitagraph player, will appear. Others are being negotiated for.

Mr. Smallwood has had some experience as a picture theater manager and is planning many little comforts for his patrons. He will have a chaperone for young children and a playroom with nurses for the babies. There will be lady ushers and a maid in the ladies' retiring room.

The scale of prices for the house will be ten, fifteen and twenty-five cents.

To popularize the venture Mr. Smallwood proposes to bill it like a circus. For the opening nine thousand sheets of paper will be posted on the billboards all over the, city. Elaborate heralds and other forms of advertising, including liberal newspaper space, will be used. Special advertising will be used for the feature pictures and the photoplayers.

Mr. Smallwood has been in New York for the past week getting ideas and features for his show. He announces the "Prisoner of Zenda" for the opening.

Source: “Pictures in Cincinnati Music Halls,” Moving Picture World 5 April 1913, 24.