What was the show they released like that? I forget... but I don't recall it was a major blockbuster.
I also agree with Bob's assessment of the union projectionist issue. When we were all running carbons & changeovers, running a movie was much more labor intensive than it is now. Yes, we have spurts of terror on makeup/breakdown days, but it took a lot more babysitting to keep one picture on the screen back then than it does now. I can't imagine any major chain operator going for the idea that it would be ok to have a projectionist leave an arclamp alone in a 2,000 seat theatre full of patrons. Murphy always made sure that was when the arc would go out.
Before automation and stable solid state electronics, you could apply the need for specialized (sometimes erroneously referred to as "professional") oversight to telephone company switching offices, radio and television control and transmitter plants... even railroad switching yards. You just couln't leave the old technology alone and expect it to be running when you got back. THAT created a lot of careers, and I can't imagine why anyone should argue that theatre projectionists earned everything they managed to get back then.
Today, as with many other technology-based operations, projection rooms are much more operationally stable than they used to be. You don't need constant supervision of this equipment in order to maintain a quality presentation; nor does every booth have to have someone in the building who can rebuild a projector head or equalize an auditorium full of speakers. What you DO need is qualified talent to make up and break down the films, then thread, start and focus the presentations properly. I'm picky as hell about my shows, but I can teach most people to do those things and maintain their skills with a modest amount of oversight. As far as I'm concerned, no union could walk into my theatre and improve the show my customers get in the slightest.
This is nothing more than progress. For a while there was a legitimate need for the union function... especially in an area where there were a lot of theatres. Management could (generally) rely on having a qualified person upstairs, who would get the show on the screen and keep the film & equipment maintained. All the owner had to do was write the check (maybe also to a service company for equipment maintenance). Who the person was upstairs frequently didn't matter. The union took care of it for you. In that time, the convenience factor alone probably outweighed the complications of every owner having to maintain their own qualified training and operations devisions.
I do agree though, that many operators have taken the cheap & easy way out & left their booths too unsupervised, because they can. It's a real shame, and it probably has had some negative effects on the business (but then, there's also the issue of rolling stock advertising). But, you'll never again see the day where a centralized organization will provide staffing for critical needs in the booth... unless someone discovers we're all getting rabies from xenon light exposure and forces us back to carbons!
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