Roadshow releasing was a common distribution tactic in postwar Hollywood, as studios attempted to lure audiences back into movie theatres following the ascendance of television and novel forms of suburban leisure. Infusing visually lavish bigbudget productions with an additional sense of cultural prestige, roadshow exhibition aligned its musicals with a live theatre-going sense of occasion, with films screened exclusively in prime metropolitan locations, on a reserved-seat basis. This paper investigates how, faced with economic decline and the genre’s perceived loss of cultural popularity, studios began to wager on an aura of occasion, prestige and technical sophistication – not always successfully.

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