Changing Fortunes of the Movie Business

September 3, 1953

Report Outline
Impact of the Depth-Perpection Picture
The Movies in Prosperity and Adversity
Problems Posed by Shift to Deep Films

Impact of the Depth-Perpection Picture

New Techniques which heighten the realism of motion pictures by adding the illusion of a third dimension have brought an upheaval in the movie business similar to that set off a quarter century ago by the development of sound films. Scarcely more than a score of the new pictures have been publicly exhibited to date and only a few thousand of the country's more than 16,000 movie houses are equipped to show them, yet virtually the entire industry is staking its future on the new depth-perception films.

The transition to the “talkies” was relatively gradual compared with the rapid changes now under way. The first full-length sound film, “The Jazz Singer,” had its premiere on Oct. 6, 1927, and three years elapsed before all feature films were made in that medium. One historian of the movies has described the change-over to sound as “the quickest industrial and artistic revolution ever staged,” but the shift of major studios from flat to deep film is taking place in a matter of months.

The phenomenal box-office success of the depth-perception movies, at a time when the industry was suffering the worst decline of patronage in its history, is chiefly responsible for the speed of conversion. Many observers see in present technological advances the industry's final answer to competition from television. “The sooner we get on the bandwagon, the better for all box office,” one theatre executive has said. “The fact they're buying anything so long as it has the three-D aura proves that the film public wants something extra added before they'll leave their TV sets—and we've at last turned the trick.” Fear persists, however, that the present upsurge of business may be only temporary and will flatten out when the novelty has worn off.

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