Friday, September 28, 2007

Let's All Go To The Lobby

Prior to the 1960s, a trip to your local Bijou lasted several hours, because along with the double feature there were cartoons, short subjects, coming attractions and a thrilling serial chapter. At intermission there was likely to be a short promo prompting the audience to visit the snack bar and spend money.

Snack bar ads were a unique art form and fascinating part of movie history. Many consider the Cadillac (Tucker Torpedo?) of snack bar ads to be "Lets All Go To The Lobby", animated in 1953 by the great Dave Fleischer for Filmack Studios of Chicago. Filmack Trailer Company began producing theatre ads, designed to inform, promote or advertise to motion picture audiences, as far back as 1919.

In a telephone interview, Robert Mack said that Filmack founder Irving Mack created the 37 second "Lobby" trailer with director Fleischer, staff animators and some singers brought in to perform the lyrics. In 2000, the Library of Congress deemed the Lobby ad "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. (Click here to go to the Filmack site and view the video.)

BTW, the derivation of "trailer" comes from the fact that originally these ads (the term originally refered to any kind of short promotional film, not just "coming attractions"), were designed to "trail' the feature, but theater owners discovered that people would leave the theater as soon as the main attraction was over. Predictably they began to play the "trailers" before the feature film.

Coca Cola, Orange Crush, Dr. Pepper, Eskimo Pie and candy manufacturers all produced snack bar ads promoting their own brands. PBS has informed us that Matinee at the Bijou cannot include snack bar ads with currently marketed products, as it would constitute product placement. (Unless, of course, that product were to become a sponsor of Matinee at the Bijou. Coca Cola, please take note...)

Bijou Bob does, however, have access to lots of terrific unbranded snack bar ads which will be featured on the series. And you can bet Matinee at the Bijou producers will be negotiating with Filmack to borrow their 35mm original Lets All Go To The Lobby camera negative when transferring this classic cinematic treasure to Hi Def.

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