WAS REALLY GOOD
(IT’S ON HULU)
Marquees can sometimes speak for themselves. At the St. George Theatre, a 2,672-seat palace I had a hand in running in 1976, we never had an opportunity, or the inclination, to spell out anything but the feature or features we’d managed to get our desperate hands on. Still, the marquee seemed to have a life of its own, as when, one windy April day, I discovered.
We’d only been open about a month, and things had not been going well. Too late, we knew we couldn’t trust the landlord. The feature advertised on the marquee, "SMILE" — an indie about teen beauty contestants that’s since become a classic — was drawing pathetic numbers, as had several previous features. Running a movie house? Who were we fooling?
I walked out of the lobby, heading uphill for home, still under the marquee. As I emerged, a gust of wind dislodged an unsteady letter, and most of the word, "SMILE" came tumbling down, rearranging itself on the pavement before me to spell out “LIES.” The big lie, of course, was that we could fill enough seats to keep the place open.
Returning to the subject of recent quarantine messages, Dan Wyatt, owner of the Kiggins Theater in Vancouver, Washington, has been doing a little quarantine marquee work.
Dan is a Back to the Future enthusiast who recently reminded his patrons,
LEAVE THE HOUSE
ANYTHING YOU DO COULD
HAVE SERIOUS REPERCUSSIONS
ON FUTURE EVENTS
Had there been a pandemic in 1976, I’d have kept the concession stand open for socially-distanced carryouts. The message on the marquee, assuming we had enough S’s?
FRESH POPCORN, REAL BUTTER!
COME BACK & WE’LL GET THE EXORCIST
1. For even more Covid-era marquee creations, don’t miss the New York Times piece that sparked this blog post. Thanks, Julia Carmel.
2. For a glimpse of what it was like on Tuesday nights, when we changed the marquee, back in the day...