Continuous showing?
March 13, 2015 3:48 AM   Subscribe

Hey -- when did film theaters start doing continuous showing, how frequent was it -- that is was it a big city thing or was it everywhere -- and when did continuous showing end, does anyone know?
posted by maddalo to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I can't find anything on it's decline, but this wiki page talks about the rise of the Nickelodeon, where, before the advent of the feature film, short films were continuously shown. This mentions origins and spread:

However, the term [Nickelodeon] was popularized by Harry Davis and John P. Harris, who opened their small storefront theatre with that name on Smithfield Street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on June 19, 1905. They called it the Nickelodeon, joining "nickel" with the Greek word for an enclosed theater adopted by the 18th-century Odéon in Paris. Although it was not the first theater to show films, in 1919 a news article stated that it was the first theater in the world "devoted exclusively to exhibition of moving picture spectacles".[3] Davis and Harris found such great success with their operation that their concept of a five-cent theater showing movies continuously was soon imitated by hundreds of ambitious entrepreneurs, as was the name of the theater itself. Statistics indicated that the number of nickelodeons in the United States doubled between 1907 and 1908 to around 8000, and it was estimated that by 1910 as many as 26 million Americans visited these theaters every week.
posted by mrmanvir at 4:48 AM on March 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

In Holland, in 1959 there were continuous showing in at least a few theaters in Rotterdam. They included a newsreel, cartoons, and feature, which I recall as being documentary most of the time. You could arrive and go anytime. This type of show is the origin of the expression "this is where we came in" to designate a process that is repeating itself. My family came to the U.S. at that time so I don't know how long continuous shows went on after that, and I don't remember there being any of that variety in the US. (Porn houses on 42nd St. cranked continuously but that's another thing.)
posted by beagle at 4:58 AM on March 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Apparently in the US as well, the continuous format was built around newsreels, and had its demise during the 1950s as most households acquired televisions. (In Europe that took a little longer.) Here's a good rundown of the rise and fall of newsreel theaters.
posted by beagle at 6:24 AM on March 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone -- I remember continuous showing in NYC through the sixties. I still wonder whether that was standard practice outside of cities. Anyhow I Googled "This is where I came in" and according to it goes back to the 20's. I imagine continuous showing of feature films (A movie, B movie, trailers, newsreel, cartoon) picked up from the Nickelodeon.
posted by maddalo at 7:17 AM on March 13, 2015

Best answer: Continuous showings was the standard practice pretty much everywhere. It used to be that you showed-up at the theater whenever you wanted, buy a ticket and walk in while the movie was running. Technically, you stayed until you looped back to the point you came in on, and then left. But, you were pretty much free to stay as long as you liked. Though, if the theater was crowded, your were "encouraged" to leave asap.

Continuous showings seemed to die-off right about the time double-features went away, sometime in the late 60's or so, I think.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:49 AM on March 13, 2015

It was still going on in the early '60s, as Psycho was famously marketed with the tagling "It is required that you see PSYCHO from the very beginning!". Per Wikipedia:
Hitchcock thought that if people entered the theater late and never saw the star actress Janet Leigh, they would feel cheated. At first theater owners opposed the idea, claiming that they would lose business. However, after the first day, the owners enjoyed long lines of people waiting to see the film.
posted by Etrigan at 10:26 AM on March 13, 2015

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