Fox theaters in three CA cities were once Hollywood’s proving grounds

posted by CSWalczak on July 9, 2010 at 3:45 pm

POMONA, CA — During Hollywood’s golden age, studio executives would rely on local audiences in three cities of California’s Inland Empire to provide insight into how the rest of America would react to their productions. Very hush-hush sneak previews were held regularly at the Fox San Bernardino, the Fox Pomona and the Fox Riverside. The audience feedback would influence the final cuts that were made to many now-classic films, including “Gone with the Wind” and “The Wizard of Oz. Why these three places?

Read the answer in this article from the L.A. Times.

Comments (7)

Robert Allen
Robert Allen on July 9, 2010 at 10:21 pm

I served part of my IA apprenticeship at the Fox Pomona. In 1950 it was equipped with Simplex Supers and received the preview films with sound and picture on separate films There was a separate unit attached to the sound head for threading the sound film. The Fox Pomona has been beautifully restored and has a website.

CSWalczak on July 9, 2010 at 11:42 pm

That’s fascinating; were the two films on the same reel or on different reels? Changeovers must have been tricky.

William on July 9, 2010 at 11:54 pm

Double System screenings you have picture on one reel and track on another reel. If you know what you are doing and have a good editorial team it’s not tricky.

CSWalczak on July 10, 2010 at 4:30 am

Did that mean that two projectors were required for each reel of film, or were projectors used that had two supply reels and two take-up reels? If two projectors were required, did the booths have four projectors to handle the changeovers?

William on July 10, 2010 at 4:00 pm

No, each theatre has two projectors. It depends on the booth install. Some booths had the track mounted on the projector. So you could run both the picture and track on the projector, but limited to 1000 foot reels in track & picture mode. The other way is to have the booth equipped with a sound dummy. Which would run the track, but not on the projector. That way both the projector and dummy would lock motors to stay in sync to run. At that time since it was a preview print it was a mono track. Only the Big Deluxe theatres in the city had more than two projectors. (Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Times Square and other First Run Deluxe houses. Some older regular houses had three projectors. I had four at the Warner Beverly Hills Theatre, 2 DP-70 (70MM/35mm) and 2 XL (35mm) projectors).

William on July 10, 2010 at 4:11 pm

The theatres from the article are not the only theatres that ran or were equipped for preview screenings in Southern California. Fox West Coast Theatres had many of their theatres equipped for previews. It was their bigger houses in many cities, like in Inglewood the Fox and Academy were equipped, but not the Inglewood or 5th Ave. houses. Alex Theatre Glendale was equipped.
Warner had the Granada Theatre in Santa Barbara equipped, Pacific Theatres had the Picwood Theatre equipped too. One thing Fox West Coast Theatres did was to install on the vertical sign of the theatre. An extra neon running over the vertical theatre’s name which said PREVIEW. Which was lit on those night. On some area theatres that neon still remains.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on July 14, 2010 at 3:28 am

The term used was “unmarried print”. It was not uncommon at preview screenings nationwide in the eighties.

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