When did movies stop being "held over" in theaters?

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by JAuz, Dec 6, 2017.

  1. JAuz

    JAuz Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I have a distinct memory as a kid reading the newspaper and sometimes seeing ads from local theaters for movies that were, for example, "held over for the 8th week!" (or similar words to that effect). This meant that the movie was so popular that they are still showing it. I recall the run that E.T. had, and watching as the number of weeks it was held over just kept on growing and growing. I remember wondering if it would reach 52 weeks and I'm pretty sure it broke the 40-week plateau in lil' old Panama City.

    Did this slow down with the rise of home video? Certainly if movie was still making money at the theater then it would make financial sense to keep showing it, but I have no idea what kind of flexibility a theater had to do that. Could they continue to show a movie at their discretion, or did they have specific contracts and schedules with the studio such that they needed to send the movie back at a certain date?
    Daryl M likes this.
  2. sloaches

    sloaches Forum Resident

    The last movie I recall getting an extended run was Titanic in 1997. If I remember right, it ran for around 4 or 5 months.
  3. yamfox

    yamfox Forum Resident

    Shrek 2 definitely ran for multiple months near where I was living at the time (a small town whose theater only had 5 screens), wiki says it stayed in the top 10 for ten weeks and was in theaters for 21 weeks.
    Finding Nemo, Avatar, and Star Wars Episode 7 were also around for a very long time.
    But as far as movies staying in theaters for half a year.. doesn't really happen as the theatrical-to-home release window has shrunk smaller and smaller
  4. When they realized most of the money is earned in the first couple of days or week(S). Honestly, Hollywood has a short attention span. They treat mo it's like the stock market now (and so do theaters) but instead of selling stock (or buying cheap) they bump those films that aren't making the money they want quickly (unless there's nothing else worth while or doing well that's playing). Who can blame them? The public is fickle and mostly waits for streaming, rental or buying the discs. The issue of ticket prices comes up but, frankly, I just think people don't want to be bothered because, when you figure in inflation, the cost of an average ticket (and no ne makes anyone buy popcorn or sodas), it's pretty close to what the price would be compared to the past. The problem is thereare other alternatives whereas before onlynetwork TV or second run theaters were an option. Figure in those issues and lower wages for folks in terms of jobs (and the disintegrating middle class)and we have movies that are rarely held over.
  5. Tanx

    Tanx Forum Resident

    Washington, DC
    A sad thread. (I hate the prices, but I'm a diehard fan of theaters.)

    I remember "Rocky" being in the theaters forever. It was released in December '76 and I finally saw it in August '77--at a sold-out show!
  6. JozefK

    JozefK Forum Resident

    There's a bit more to it than that -- most of Hollywood's money is made is the in the first few weeks. I believe the studio % goes down after two weeks.

    This has enormous ramifications, as Hollywood only cares about films that "open", that is, get a huge audience immediately.

    There are other, demographic issues that I can't get into per forum policy.
    4xoddic and Vidiot like this.
  7. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    "Short attention span" is right. Nowadays, a content providor is obliged to provide content elsewhere, practically while it's basking in the glow of its' opening weekend. The studio doesn't reap much reward nowadays for keeping a film in theaters, when they own the means and pathway to scoot it out into a new marketplace post haste. Why would you wait to let your Toy Story action figure create practically no buzz whatsoever on the shelves in Sears, if instead you could sell it directly on a hope shopping channel? As a member exclusive with your own studio store. Or...EBAY! Take THAT, ya greedy opportunists...!~ :D
  8. Our downtown movie palace art house holds things over occasionally. Probably not as much pressure to move a picture out in that type of cinema.
  9. dewey02

    dewey02 Forum Resident

    The mid-South.
    Not quite the same, but I think that The Beatles/Ron Howard movie was originally supposed to play only for one day or in some venues for one week, but was held over at some places for several weeks. This was just last year.

    P.S. Not that I thought it was a good movie at all, but it was the first time the Beatles were on the big screen with a "new" movie for decades, and the fact that the cinema showing Live at Shea Stadium following the movie may have been the big attraction (it certainly was for me.)
    Derek Gee likes this.
  10. jkauff

    jkauff Putin-funded Forum Troll

    Akron, OH
    The new movie My Friend Dahmer (adapted from Derf Backderf's graphic novel) was scheduled for six showings over three nights at a small theater in Derf's hometown of Akron, OH. It's been selling out for over three weeks now, two showings a day, with no end in sight.

    Hopefully, it'll get a wider release soon so the rest of us can see it.
    Cerebus and dbsea like this.
  11. YpsiGypsy

    YpsiGypsy Forum Resident

    Michigan, USA
    I remember seeing Thunder Road at drive-ins down south in the early 1970's.
    It was a movie made in 1958 about bootleggers running whiskey starring Robert Mitchum and his son James.
  12. Well that's why I provided more than the first line you quoted, yes, what you mentioned is part of it as well.

    If a studio film performs well over a long period of time it also earns some good will that the theaters especially when a film bombs.
  13. eric777

    eric777 Rock Star

    “Titanic” was the last one I remember. Before that, I think it was “Back To The Future” but I’m not really sure.

    Going to the theater back then seemed different to me as opposed to now. Back then it seemed as though we were doing something special whereas now it seems as if it’s just a way to kill time.

    I also remember that even bad films stayed in the theater longer and seemed to bring in a fair amount of money. Now, they don’t don’t appear to stay very long at all. Perhaps it’s because now there are so many different ways to watch a movie that people just don’t make an effort to go since they can just wait a month and stream it at home. That’s what I do anyway.

    My guess is that these might be the reasons that films are not held over as often. Then again, maybe I’m wrong.
  14. 4xoddic

    4xoddic Forum Resident

    As I remember it (~1970), "held over for the 8th week!" was cut out & rubber pasted over the original week's ad layout, the mock-up was picked up by the newspaper ad dept's man in a red Beetle convertible; returned for proof; & ran in the newspaper.

    RECALL: at this time there were no multi-screen theaters, NADA. When you showed up late for a sold-out movie, you had to make alternative plans (another movie @ another location, bowling, etc.). There were no advance ticket sales, as ticket #s delta = seats sold => seats remaining. Theaters, on avg., were much larger, (Miller Theatre, Wichita, KS, ~ 2,000 seats w/loge. balcony, 2nd & 3rd balcony). Midnight Cowboy showed for weeks. Those were the days my friend,
  15. Drew

    Drew Forum Resident

    Columbus, OH
    Several years ago I asked the question in a different thread when was the last time you saw the phrase "Held Over For Another Exciting Week!"?

    I moved to Columbus (the first time of three) in 1990. I remember there was about 40 movie theater screen in at the area at that time. Today I bet its 10 times that many. I'm amazed that we aren't reading about more theater chains going out of business.

    AMC Is Set to Become the Biggest Movie Theater Company in the U.S.
  16. Spaghettiows

    Spaghettiows Forum Resident

    Silver Creek, NY
    I have to think that home video has a lot to do with it.

    If you wanted to see Rocky in 1977, there was only one place to see it, at the theater. Even if you had HBO, there was usually a 2-3 year lapse between the theatrical release date and the first pay television showing. So hit movies were routinely in at least some theaters for a year or even longer for the blockbusters. Non-concurrently in the vast majority of cases.

    I remember more double features back then as well. Many times you would have, say, 2 Mel Brooks movies or 2 James Bond movies. Other than drive-ins and maybe art houses, does anyone do that any more?
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
  17. Cerebus

    Cerebus Forum Resident

    I enjoyed the graphic novel and I’m checking every week for it to appear on iTunes. I just can’t justify the 60 minute drive and hassles to find parking and dinner to see it at the one theater that is showing it in town.
  18. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat, Biscuits and Abbie: Best Dogs Ever

    Alexandria VA
    I might not remember this perfectly, but I recall that Fox was going to release "Broken Arrow" in mid-January 1998. Some exhibitors expressed concern because they didn't want 2 Fox films - "BA" and "Titanic" - on their screens at the same time.

    Allegedly the Fox reps assured them that "Titanic" would be gone by that point so they shouldn't worry about it! :laugh:
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  19. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat, Biscuits and Abbie: Best Dogs Ever

    Alexandria VA
    Home video definitely has a lot to do with abbreviated theatrical runs - there's not as much incentive to keep movies in theaters where they sputter along with diminishing returns for months.

    Perversely, though, some movies last in theaters longer than otherwise might be the case because there are so many more screens available than in the past.

    According to the National Association of Theater Owners, there are currently 40.393 screens in the US.

    30 years ago, there were 22,679 - the # of screens has almost doubled over 30 years!

    And I'm betting it was below 20,000 in 1977 - back then, single-screen theaters were common and three-screen multiplexes were a big deal! Nothing like the 16-screen+ behemoths of today.

    With so many screens in one building, exhibitors gotta show something, so movies stick around longer than might otherwise be the case.

    The nearest multiplex still has "It" after 3 months - an eternity in today's marketplace!
  20. dr jazz

    dr jazz Forum Resident

    park ridge,il,usa
    My kids work in a theater that has one large screen built in 1928 and three smaller screens in another building in a revived downtown in an older suburb.one of the reasons they change films a lot is the large number of weekly customers -generally older -who will see every film regardless of genre in the main theater

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