Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

TMT: So This is Why We Call It The Blockbuster

This is the next entry in a Theatre… a Movie… and a Time, a series that was begun here. My colleague Iba from I Luv Cinema, byway of his May 31st post, gets the credit, along with the upcoming Universal 100th Anniversary release of the remastered Blu-ray Disc of a landmark movie, for this memory download. The root reason the summer is now the studios’ box office money-making season, and why us movie patrons take for granted queuing for up for such things, is because of one Steven Spielberg film.

“I’m not going to waste my time arguing with a man who’s lining up to be a hot lunch.”


Theatre

The Century Plaza Cinemas:

Movie

Time

June 21, 1975: the ‘buzz’, among film critics and moviegoers, for this happening rivaled those of The Godfather and The Exorcist from years earlier. Everyone and their mother knew about this, whether they had read the top-selling novel or not (again, as with those other two). When it opened on this Friday date, 37 years ago today, you had people already lined up around the block, with SOLD OUT stuck next to some showtimes on theater marquees. This was especially true in this city’s showcase movie spots that were Hollywood and Westwood Village of the mid-70s.

Working part-time while attending college got me gas and movie date money back then. The last days of my first college girlfriend were coming to a close, but that still meant going to the flicks with her. Long-ago newspaper movie ads informed us that Century Plaza Cinemas had the film in widescreen 70mm splendor and Dolby sound. And since the area was not yet the draw like those mentioned, it’s where we ended up to meet the new reality of what became the summer blockbuster experience.

The two of us arrived on Saturday and immediately got into the ticket buying line for Jaws. That is, the one for purchasing tickets for the show after the one that was already sold out. We saw that audience start to file through the front door soon afterward. Like they had, we then fell into another line along the front of the complex on Avenue of the Stars. We proceeded to wait the two and half hours before we’d be ushered in to the movie cathedral for our worship service.

The ‘event’ nature of it all was giddily new, and it built a camaraderie, of sorts, among those there. Some of us struck up interim bonds to hold places while others broke away and brought back food and drink for those killing time till their call. And when we finally landed in our seats, faced the ocean and its new terror, we reconciled the new actuality now in place: wanting to do it all over again. Which I did, this time with my cousin, the very next day down at a theater in Lakewood.

“You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”


 

The entire series can be found here. If you’re interested how it’s put together, click here.

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27 Responses to “TMT: So This is Why We Call It The Blockbuster”

  1. fogsmoviereviews

    These are really cool posts, Le0p, I really do enjoy them. Makes em wish I had a better recollection of the times I went to the movies, instead of just remembering the movies themselves.

    I DO remember the “Blockbuster” phenomenon though. Now with bigger theatres, more screens, advanced ticket sales, etc, you dont get it so much… but I distinctly recall waiting in line wayyyyy the hell OUT of the theatre. :D

    Those were the days…

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      Yes, the movie blockbuster experience has morphed into what you describe, Fogs. Remnants for the old still pop up from time-to-time — I just found out that a cohort caught me on local news when I was in a certain 4 AM movie line. Anyway, perhaps this early experience manifested itself into that ;-). Thanks for the kind words, my friend.

      Reply
  2. Novroz

    You know I always enjoy your TMT.
    This is a really fun read, I didn’t experience the hype of Jaws because I wasn’t even born yet…but I can imagine the hype as this movie is timeless.

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      It was somethin’ to be there when it all went down, Pete. Thanks very much for reading and leaving a comment, my friend.

      Reply
  3. Dan

    Just this week I got to see Jaws in the theatre for the first time. It was a wonderful experience – I now love the film even more and I’m beginning to regret placing it at number two, behind Close Encounters, in my top 10 Spielberg films.

    …but I can’t imagine seeing this back in ’75…how it changed the face of Hollywood cinema; how it wowed audiences…what a wonderful moment! :)

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      That’s great, Dan! I have to admit there was a time I avoided this film in particular. In 1976, Universal did a re-release of JAWS during the summer here in the States. I was working as projectionist at an independent theater at the time. The film, successful at the box office all over again, stayed at that theater for SIX WEEKS. I’ve estimated that I screened the film at least 60 times in that period. We, the projectionists working there, got to the point of saturation with the film that we didn’t need to cue marks to perform the changeovers. We’d seen it so often that we could just listen to the dialogue and automatically knew when the reel ended.

      It wasn’t until the 90s, when enough time had passed, that I could re-watch and enjoy the film once more. Many thanks, Dan.

      Reply
  4. mummbles

    I am jealous of you! i wish I was born when this movie came out as It has become my all time favorite over time. I have seen it twice on the big-screen in the Bay Area but something tells me it never will compare to seeing it when it first came out.

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      It’s a great one, alright. Can’t wait for the new and remastered Blu-ray coming this summer. Thanks so much for joining in on this, Mummbles.

      Reply
  5. Eric

    So cool that you got to experience the blockbuster craze firsthand with Jaws. Thanks for sharing your story, Michael, this was a fun read.

    Reply
  6. idawson

    What a wonderful trip down memory lane Michael. Glad that I could be of service. Working on developing my latest entry in the series for next week :)

    Reply
  7. ruth

    That’s cool that you saw JAWS on the big screen. Man, that’s gotta be quite a thrill. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” is such a great quote, it just sums up the dread in such a concise one liner. Great TMT, as always! :D

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      Thank you very kindly, Ruth. This one was fairly easy to recall as so many precedents were set by this one film.

      Reply
  8. sanclementejedi

    Seeing Jaws is my first film memory, saw it at the Drivein, don’t know what my parents were thinking as I was 5 years old at the time.

    I am always amazed by your ability to recall so many details of the films and theaters that you went to. Do you have a photographic memory or are you related to The Amazing Kreskin? ;-)

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      Now, that’s a memory! You were age 5 for this?!? Wow. And I really owe whatever ability I have for dredging things out of my head to my mother. Now, she had an Kreskin-like memory. Many thanks, my friend.

      Reply
      • sanclementejedi

        my poor brother was 4 lol, My folks claim it was a twin bill with some disney movie in front of Jaws and they thought we were going to be asleep by the time it started…. who can’t sleep through Jaws ;-)

        Reply
  9. The Focused Filmographer

    Like Fogs said, I really do enjoy these. Always fun to read your memories of TMT!

    Never got to see Jaws in theaters, but I can relate to waiting so long in line! What fun. Thanks for always sharing these.

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      Thank you very kindly, T. I am very appreciative that readers like you, Fogs, Ruth, and others enjoy these. All of you are great, truly.

      Reply

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