“Custer of the West”: The Roadshow Engagements
“A man too big for legend. A motion picture too big for any screen
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The following is a reference / historical listing of the roadshow presentations
of “Custer of the West” in the United States and Canada.
The presentations cited in this work were “hard ticket” roadshow engagements and
were special showcase presentations in major cities prior to the film being
exhibited as a general release. Much like a stage production, these featured
advanced admission pricing, reserved seating, an
overture/intermission/entr’acte/exit music, and an average of only ten scheduled
screenings per week. Souvenir program booklet were sold, as well, and in some
instances the soundtrack album.
The roadshow presentations utilized 70mm prints (branded as “Cinerama”) derived
Technirama photography and were projected onto large, deeply-curved
screens and featured discrete six-track magnetic stereophonic sound.
Out of the hundreds of films released during 1968, “Custer of the West” was
among only fourteen given deluxe roadshow treatment and among only eleven
released with 70mm prints (six of which, including “Custer,” originating in 65mm
or Technirama Large Aperture, plus five blow-ups).
The Cinerama Releasing Corporation release was directed by Robert Siodmak and
starred Robert Shaw, Mary Ure, Jeffrey Hunter and Robert Ryan.
The North American premiere was held January 24th in Dallas, Texas. (The film’s
world premiere was held at the
Casino Cinerama in London on November 9th, 1967.)
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Premiere date YYYY-MM-DD … City — Cinema (duration in weeks)
1968-01-24 … Dallas — Capri (3)
1968-01-25 … Denver — Cooper (11)
1968-01-25 … Detroit — Summit (8)
1968-01-25 … Houston — Gaylynn (5)
1968-01-25 … Kansas City — Empire 2 (7)
1968-01-25 … Portland — Hollywood (7)
1968-01-25 … St. Louis — Cinerama (8)
1968-01-26 … Knoxville — Capri-70 (4)
1968-02-01 … Buffalo — Century (5)
1968-02-01 … Montreal — Imperial (12)
1968-02-07 … Louisville — Showcase 1 (4)
1968-02-09 … Columbus — Grand (5)
1968-02-15 … Sacramento — Esquire (5)
1968-02-16 … Cincinnati — International 70 (5)
1968-02-21 … Milwaukee — Wisconsin 1 (4)
Following poor reviews and low attendance for the initial roadshow engagements,
Cinerama revised their release strategy on “Custer of the West,” discontinuing
the roadshow and issuing the film elsewhere as a continuous performance general
release in 35mm.
In historical accounts of roadshow and 70mm presentations, “Custer of the West”
is often overlooked (perhaps justifiably so if you’ve seen the film!). Too often
historians have mistakenly used New York and/or Los Angeles as a point of
reference. In fact, “Custer” played the New York and Los Angeles markets only as
a 35mm general release, fueling the mistaken perception that the film did not
play any large format engagements in the United States.
SUBSEQUENT 70MM SCREENINGS (non-reserved seating / general release policy)
1973-11-21 … Hartford, CT — Cinerama (2)
The information in this article was principally referenced from film industry
trade publications and regional newspaper promotion, with thanks to Bill
Kretzel, Robert Morrow and Vince Young.
Additional 70mm prints were screened internationally but have not been accounted
for in this article.
If you believe this article contains any errors or omissions, please
consider emailing the
author or editor.
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