History, Legacy & Showmanship

Funny Girl: The Roadshow Engagements

December 31, 2013 - 12:01 am   |   By 

The Digital Bits is pleased to present this retrospective article commemorating the 45th anniversary of the release of Funny Girl, the popular William Wyler-Ray Stark motion picture adaptation of the stage musical featuring Barbra Streisand’s Academy Award-winning performance as comedienne Fanny Brice.

Earlier this year, Sony Pictures’ restoration of Funny Girl was featured in the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival and subsequently released on Blu-ray Disc.

Now, The Digital Bits celebrates the classic musical’s 45th anniversary with a detailed listing of the film’s original, major-market, reserved-seat roadshow engagements in the United States and Canada as well as an interview with Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Grover Crisp, who speaks about the film’s recent restoration.  [Read on here…]

 

THE ROADSHOW ENGAGEMENTS

The roadshow engagements of Funny Girl were long-running, big-city exclusives that preceded any general-release exhibition.  Out of hundreds of films released domestically during 1968, Funny Girl was among only fourteen given deluxe roadshow treatment.  Much like a stage show, they featured reserved seating, an advanced admission price, were shown an average of only ten times per week, and included an overture, intermission, entr’acte and exit music.  Many of the roadshow presentations of Funny Girl featured four-track stereophonic sound.  A few theaters, including those in Los Angeles, New York, and Philadelphia, screened the film in a special 70-millimeter blow-up print that featured a six-track stereo presentation.  Souvenir program booklets were sold, as well.

What follows is a chronological list of (most of) Funny Girl‘s domestic theatrical “hard ticket” roadshow engagements, arranged chronologically by date of premiere.  The duration of the engagements, measured in weeks, has been included for some entries to give a sense of how successful the film was in a given region.  Several of these runs established a house record for gross and/or length of engagement.

    Funny Girl at The Egyptian     Funny Girl at The Criterion

 

  • 1968-09-18 … New York, NY – Criterion [72 weeks]
  • 1968-09-19 … Boston, MA – Cheri 1 [9 weeks]
  • 1968-09-19 … Boston, MA – Cheri 2 [42 weeks]
  • 1968-09-19 … Boston, MA – Cheri 3 [5 weeks]

 

  • 1968-10-03 … Montreal, QC – Place du Canada [39 weeks]
  • 1968-10-03 … Philadelphia, PA – Goldman [60 weeks]
  • 1968-10-03 … Toronto, ON – Fairlawn [68 weeks]
  • 1968-10-09 … Los Angeles, CA – Egyptian [61 weeks]
  • 1968-10-10 … San Francisco, CA – Coronet [60 weeks]
  • 1968-10-10 … Vancouver, BC – Park [32 weeks]
  • 1968-10-16 … Chicago, IL – United Artists [35 weeks]
  • 1968-10-16 … Dallas, TX – Cine 150 [17 weeks]
  • 1968-10-16 … Minneapolis, MN – Academy [53 weeks]
  • 1968-10-16 … Pittsburgh, PA – Fulton [10 weeks]
  • 1968-10-22 … Cleveland (Cleveland Heights), OH – Severance [43 weeks]
  • 1968-10-23 … Atlanta, GA – Capri [40 weeks]
  • 1968-10-23 … Denver, CO – Continental [60 weeks]
  • 1968-10-23 … Des Moines, IA – Riviera [31 weeks]
  • 1968-10-23 … Detroit (Southfield), MI – Northland [61 weeks]
  • 1968-10-23 … Indianapolis, IN – Eastwood [34 weeks]
  • 1968-10-23 … Kansas City, MO – Midland [58 weeks]
  • 1968-10-23 … Omaha, NE – Dundee [54 weeks]
  • 1968-10-23 … Washington, DC – Ontario [19 weeks]
  • 1968-10-24 … Houston, TX – Gaylynn [36 weeks]

 

  • 1968-11-06 … Baltimore, MD – New [33 weeks]
  • 1968-11-06 … Milwaukee, WI – Capitol Court [41 weeks]
  • 1968-11-06 … Salt Lake City (South Salt Lake), UT – Century 21 [29 weeks]
  • 1968-11-06 … Toledo, OH – Showcase 3 [29 weeks]
  • 1968-11-13 … Portland, OR – Paramount [28 weeks]

 

  • 1968-12-16 … Miami Beach, FL – Carib [44 weeks]
  • 1968-12-17 … New Orleans, LA – Robert E. Lee [45 weeks]
  • 1968-12-17 … Rochester, NY – Monroe [48 weeks]
  • 1968-12-18 … Buffalo, NY – Granada [52 weeks]
  • 1968-12-18 … Lawrence, MA – Showcase 2 [27 weeks]
  • 1968-12-18 … Orlando, FL – Seminole
  • 1968-12-18 … St. Petersburg, FL – Gateway Mall [26 weeks]
  • 1968-12-19 … St. Louis (Jennings), MO – Northland [27 weeks]
  • 1968-12-19 … St. Louis (Mehlville), MO – South County [23 weeks]
  • 1968-12-19 … San Diego, CA – Capri [39 weeks]
  • 1968-12-20 … Oklahoma City, OK – State
  • 1968-12-22 … Louisville, KY – Showcase 2
  • 1968-12-25 … Albany, NY – State [26 weeks]
  • 1968-12-25 … Pittsburgh, PA – Fiesta [continuation from Fulton, 42 (52) weeks]
  • 1968-12-25 … Providence (East Providence), RI – Four Seasons I
  • 1968-12-25 … Richmond, VA – Towne [19 weeks]
  • 1968-12-25 … Seattle, WA – Uptown [48 weeks]
  • 1968-12-26 … Syracuse (DeWitt), NY – Shoppingtown I [31 weeks]

 

  • 1969-01-29 … Akron (Fairlawn), OH – Village
  • 1969-01-29 … Davenport (Moline, IL), IA – Sierra
  • 1969-01-29 … Las Vegas, NV – Bonanza Movie Palace [26 weeks]
  • 1969-01-29 … Phoenix, AZ – Palms [36 weeks]
  • 1969-01-29 … Worcester (Shrewsbury), MA – White City [26 weeks]
  • 1969-01-29 … Youngstown, OH – State [18 weeks]
  • 1969-01-30 … Calgary, AB – Odeon [16 weeks]
  • 1969-01-30 … Edmonton, AB – Avenue [21 weeks]
  • 1969-01-30 … Ottawa, ON – Elmdale [22 weeks]
  • 1969-01-30 … Winnipeg, MB – Kings [19 weeks]

 

  • 1969-02-12 … Cedar Rapids, IA – Times 70 [26 weeks]
  • 1969-02-12 … Springfield (West Springfield), MA – Showcase 3 [20 weeks]
  • 1969-02-18 … Columbus, OH – Eastland [26 weeks]
  • 1969-02-19 … Cincinnati, OH – Kenwood [35 weeks]
  • 1969-02-20 … Dallas, TX – Granada [continuation from Cine 150, 35 (52) weeks]
  • 1969-02-20 … Hartford (Newington), CT – Newington I [38 weeks]
  • 1969-02-26 … San Antonio, TX – North Star Mall II [24 weeks]
  • 1969-02-27 … Memphis, TN – Paramount [23 weeks]

 

  • 1969-03-04 … Sacramento, CA – Century 21 [32 weeks]
  • 1969-03-05 … Washington, DC – Cinema [continuation from Ontario, 34 (53) weeks]
  • 1969-03-11 … Madison, WI – Esquire [26 weeks]
  • 1969-03-26 … Charlotte, NC – Manor [26 weeks]

 

  • 1969-04-02 … Jacksonville, FL – St. Johns [17 weeks]

 

  • 1969-05-21 … Atlantic City, NJ – Center
  • 1969-05-27 … Oakland, CA – Century 21 [18 weeks]
  • 1969-05-28 … Orange (Fullerton), CA – Titan [30 weeks]
  • 1969-05-28 … Reno, NV – Cinema [16 weeks]
  • 1969-05-29 … Fresno, CA – Warnor [13 weeks]

 

  • 1969-06-18 … Asbury Park, NJ – St. James [24 weeks]
  • 1969-06-18 … Chicago, IL – Michael Todd [continuation from United Artists, 21 (56) weeks]
  • 1969-06-18 … Harrisburg, PA – Uptown [15 weeks]
  • 1969-06-18 … Newark (Morristown), NJ – Community [31 weeks]
  • 1969-06-18 … Sioux City, IA – Cameo 1
  • 1969-06-18 … Spokane, WA – Dishman [23 weeks]
  • 1969-06-20 … Miami (Kendall), FL – Dadeland Twin 2 [22 weeks]
  • 1969-06-24 … San Jose, CA – Century 22 [47 weeks]
  • 1969-06-25 … Birmingham, AL – Eastwood Mall [14 weeks]
  • 1969-06-25 … Eugene, OR – Mayflower [12 weeks]
  • 1969-06-25 … Fitchburg (Leominster), MA – Searstown 2 [6 weeks]
  • 1969-06-25 … Knoxville, TN – Park
  • 1969-06-25 … Lubbock, TX – Continental [14 weeks]
  • 1969-06-25 … Springfield, IL – Esquire [15 weeks]
  • 1969-06-25 … Syosset, NY – Syosset [31 weeks]
  • 1969-06-25 … Wilmington, DE – Cinema 141 [15 weeks]
  • 1969-06-27 … Trenton, NJ – Trent [13 weeks]

 

  • 1969-07-02 … Houston, TX – Gaylynn Terrace [continuation from Gaylynn, 17 (53) weeks]
  • 1969-07-09 … Canton, OH – Palace [13 weeks]
  • 1969-07-11 … Fort Lauderdale (Hallandale Beach), FL – Hallandale [14 weeks]
  • 1969-07-16 … Portsmouth, NH – Civic [8 weeks]
  • 1969-07-16 … Santa Barbara, CA – State
  • 1969-07-25 … Tucson, AZ – Fox [8 weeks]
  • 1969-07-30 … Boise, ID – FairVu
  • 1969-07-30 … Eau Claire, WI – Cinema 1 [6 weeks]
  • 1969-07-30 … Steubenville, OH – Grand [4 weeks]
  • 1969-07-30 … Wichita, KS – Sunset [16 weeks]

 

  • 1969-08-06 … New Haven (Orange), CT – Showcase 2 [25 weeks]
  • 1969-08-07 … Nashville, TN – Martin
  • 1969-08-13 … Tacoma, WA – Tacoma Mall
  • 1969-08-14 … Charleston (South Charleston), WV – Charleston Cinema South
  • 1969-08-20 … Cleveland, OH – Colony [continuation from Severance, 7 (50) weeks]
  • 1969-08-20 … Evansville, IN – Washington
  • 1969-08-27 … Fresno, CA – Country Squire [continuation from Warnor, 8 (21) weeks]

 

  • 1969-09-17 … Honolulu, HI – Kapahulu

 

  • 1969-10-01 … Albuquerque, NM – Fox Winrock [7 weeks]
  • 1969-10-01 … Augusta, GA – Daniel Village [6 weeks]
  • 1969-10-01 … Corpus Christi, TX – Deux Cine II [6 weeks]
  • 1969-10-01 … Erie, PA – Strand
  • 1969-10-01 … Nanuet, NY – Route 59 [11 weeks]
  • 1969-10-01 … Raleigh, NC – Colony [9 weeks]
  • 1969-10-01 … Reading, PA – Fox [12 weeks]
  • 1969-10-02 … Rockford, IL – State [7 weeks]
  • 1969-10-03 … Windsor, ON – Park [12 weeks]
  • 1969-10-08 … Colorado Springs, CO – Cinema 70 [6 weeks]
  • 1969-10-15 … El Paso, TX – Pershing [6 weeks]
  • 1969-10-21 … Pleasant Hill, CA – Century 21 [8 weeks]

 

  • 1969-11-12 … Chicago, IL – Cinestage [continuation from Michael Todd, 5 (61) weeks]

 

PREMIERE DATES UNCONFIRMED:

  • Amarillo, TX – Esquire
  • Dayton, OH – Page Manor
  • Fargo, ND – Cinema 70
  • Fort Wayne, IN – Jefferson
  • Grand Rapids, MI – Midtown
  • Lexington, KY – Kentucky
  • Peoria, IL – Fox
  • Portland, ME – Fine Arts
  • St. Cloud, MN – Cinema 70
  • Tulsa, OK – Continental

 

Funny Girl - Cornet Ticket

The first roadshow presentations of Funny Girl held outside the United States and Canada were in the United Kingdom and commenced in January 1969.  The first foreign-language presentations took place in France beginning January 1969.

Toward the conclusion of the roadshow engagements, Columbia Pictures placed Funny Girl into a general release, where it played several additional months, with some bookings on a reserved-performance (“modified roadshow”) basis.  In comparison to the roadshow engagements, the general-release presentations were (mostly) monaural, shown several times per day, had regular admission pricing, featured a shorter running time, and, in some bookings, lacked the roadshow presentation components (intermission, overture, etc.).  The film’s success during its limited roadshow run created momentum for what was also a successful nationwide general release.

Funny Girl was the most-successful 1968 movie, out-grossing Best Picture winner Oliver! and perennial favorite 2001: A Space Odyssey (both roadshows) as well as popular general-release hits Bullitt, The Love Bug, The Odd Couple, and Planet of the Apes.  (2001 ultimately out-performed Funny Girl through decades of re-releases and revival screenings.)  And, judging from a combination of box-office performance and average engagement duration, Funny Girl was the third-most-successful roadshow musical of all time after The Sound of Music (1965) and My Fair Lady (1964).  Funny Girl was also one of the few successful releases during the final years of the roadshow era, which came to an end in the early 1970s.

Funny Girl

 

THE INTERVIEW

Grover Crisp is Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Executive Vice President of Asset Management, Film Restoration & Digital Mastering, and he spoke to The Bits on the recent restoration of Funny Girl.

Sony's Grover CrispMichael Coate (The Digital Bits):  Why restore Funny Girl?

Grover Crisp:  We had been planning to work on Funny Girl for some time and put it out on Blu-ray, but many other projects kept getting in the way.  It is a very popular musical, especially among Barbra Streisand’s fans, of course, and was nominated for, and won, a lot of awards.  And we had been talking to TCM [Turner Classic Movies] about their classic film festival here in Hollywood and they really wanted it for an opening night premiere.  So, it just seemed the right time to do it.

Coate:  How does this most-recent restoration differ from the one done about a decade ago?

Crisp:  The main difference now is that we have the digital tools to fix problems that were frustrating to have to leave alone in the photo-chemical workflow.  Things like torn frames where we would have to use lesser-quality film elements to make replacements.  These were always compromises that were just part of the routine restoration work.  Also, in 1999/2000 we were working with the revived Technicolor dye-transfer process for our restoration and all the prints we made at that time, over twenty, were dye-transfer.  We were trying to replicate the look of the original prints we used for reference.  I was sorry to see that new process fail as I thought it superior to the original one, at least in terms of consistency from print-to-print.

Coate:  The film’s director and cinematographer are no longer alive. Was anyone from the original crew involved with the restoration?

Crisp:  Back when we were working on this film for the first restoration, I contacted Robert Swink, who is listed as the supervising editor on this film, but worked quite a bit with William Wyler over the years.  He was retired at that time and I think living in Arizona or New Mexico.  We talked quite a bit about this film and how things should look, but also about the various edits that took place during production.  We talked about the saturation level in some scenes, for example, and how the original release dye-transfer prints looked.  That is one reason the red velvet dining room scene is so saturated looking as it was intended to be.  He was a nice resource, but has unfortunately passed away since then, but he gave some great advice and it benefited our work.

Coate:  Can you describe the workflow for this project?

Crisp:  We wanted to work as much as possible from the original camera negative, so we scanned it on a wetgate 4K scanner at Cineric in New York.  We then moved those 4K raw scans to Colorworks, the DI and restoration facility on the Sony Studios lot that was built with 4K workflows in mind.  The image restoration from the raw scans were completed at MTI Film here in Los Angeles while we were busy with the color correction at Colorworks.  There was some additional image restoration at Colorworks, specifically with Jesse Morrow in Opticals, and I worked with colorist David H. Bernstein with the Baselight 8 color correction system.  We looked at one of our dye-transfer prints from the earlier restoration as a reference, but there was so much more we could get out of the film working directly with the original negative in a full 4K workflow.  The audio was restored at Chace Audio by Deluxe and it was somewhat of an update to the work that had been done some years earlier.  We made great use of the original stereo magnetic tracks.

Funny Girl - pre-restoration

Funny Girl - post-restoration

Coate:  In what way is the current restoration superior to previous versions of the film?

Crisp:  It is a result of the 4K digital restoration workflow that we have instituted here at the studio.  One of our goals in the first restoration of this film in the late 1990s was to try and replicate the original dye-transfer look from the initial release, so we did a fairly traditional restoration at the time by using second and third generation film elements to replace damaged or missing sections of the film, and then followed that by working with Technicolor on the then-revitalized dye-transfer process.  It was still new at that time (and died permanently shortly thereafter) and part of our work was helping them to work out some of the kinks in the workflow.  We basically wound up answer-printing the film in dye-transfer, which was a bit of a nightmare with such a long film.  The results, though, basically met what we were looking for and we were able to achieve some of what the filmmakers intended with the deep blacks, rich reds, etc., of the original look.  It was very gratifying to have [producer] Ray Stark say it was the best print he had ever seen of the film when we premiered it at the Egyptian.  Jump ahead some twelve years and to how we restore films now and we were able to achieve, I think, what we set out to back then with the look of the film, but this time we did not need to compromise on the quality of the image since we could use the original negative, even where damaged, to restore the film at a full 4K resolution.  With this workflow, we can capture and sustain the image detail that has always been in the negative, but not so visible in the traditional cascade flow of how release prints are made.

Coate:  Have new 35mm prints been struck, or is Funny Girl currently available theatrically only in a DCP?

Crisp:  It is available theatrically as a 4K DCP.  We are in the process of recording out to a new 35mm negative, which is primarily for preservation purposes, though there could be some prints struck.  I think the optimum viewing for the film now, however, is the 4K DCP.

Coate:  In terms of history and legacy, what does Funny Girl mean to the studio?

Crisp:  It was one of the last of the big studio musicals that were produced in that period of the late 60s, early 70s.  Meaning that it was built to run with the traditional overture, intermission and walkout music at the end and was a long film with lavish production numbers.  It introduced audiences to a Barbra Streisand as an actress of unique and stunning ability, as well.  Though she got great notices for the stage version and was a major recording artist at that point, her film performance was just right.  William Wyler, who directed only a few films for Columbia, all near the end of his working life, may have seemed an odd choice at the time, but he did a terrific job.  With very few major musicals in the Columbia legacy, this one certainly is the standout.

-----

Funny Girl - Roadshow Program    Funny Girl - Original Soundtrack Recording

 

SOURCES/REFERENCES

The information contained in this article was referenced from regional newspaper promotion and various issues of Boxoffice and Variety.

 

SPECIAL THANKS

Jerry Alexander, Jim Barg, Raymond Caple, Grover Crisp, Nick DiMaggio, Mike Durrett, Bill Gabel, Martin Hart, Bill Huelbig, Bill Kretzel, Mark Lensenmayer, Stan Malone, Jim Perry, Vince Young, and all of the librarians who helped with the research for this project.

 

IMAGES

FUNNY GIRL © 1968, renewed 1996 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

- Michael Coate

Funny Girl - World Premiere Advertisement

 

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