History, Legacy & Showmanship

Remembering “Spartacus”

October 20, 2015 - 12:01 am   |   by
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“This was the world of Spartacus…when Antoninus traded the luxury of Rome’s most palatial household to battle by the side of Spartacus…and learned that a slave can live, fight, die better than any Roman!”

The Digital Bits presents this retrospective on Spartacus, commemorating the 55th anniversary of its original release and the recent release of the film on Blu-ray.  [Read on here...]

“It’s taken a good long while to see Spartacus given its due on Blu-ray, but at last it has,” Bits editor Bill Hunt reported in his recent review.  “Universal has finally seen fit to give this film the proper, all-new restoration it deserves for the digital age.  The result has just been released on Blu-ray Disc… and it’s simply stunning.”

Also stunning were the film’s original presentations in theaters during its roadshow release, many of which were shown in 70-millimeter and six-track stereophonic sound.  Presented here is a chronological list of the award-winning epic’s principal roadshow engagements in the United States and Canada.  These were special, long-running showcase presentations in major cities prior to the film being exhibited as a general release, and they featured advanced admission pricing, reserved seating, an overture/intermission/entr’acte/exit music, an average of ten scheduled screenings per week, and a souvenir program booklet.  The classic film’s anniversary and recent hi-def release offers an opportunity to namedrop some once-glorious cinemas and to reflect on how the film industry has evolved the manner in which event and prestige films are treated.

Directed by Stanley Kubrick (after taking over for Anthony Mann) and starring Kirk Douglas and Laurence Olivier, Spartacus told the story of a gladiator who led a slave revolt during the 1st Century BC.  The cast of the Bryna Production/Universal-International release also included Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov, John Gavin, and Tony Curtis.

Spartacus at the DeMille

THE ROADSHOW ENGAGEMENTS

  • 1960-10-06 … New York, NY — DeMille (53 weeks)
  • 1960-10-13 … Chicago, IL — McVickers (23)
  • 1960-10-19 … Los Angeles, CA — Pantages (61)
  • 1960-10-27 … Boston, MA — Astor (22)
  • 1960-11-02 … Philadelphia, PA — Goldman (23)
  • 1960-11-03 … Detroit, MI — Madison (21)
  • 1960-12-15 … Miami (North Miami Beach), FL — 163rd Street (14)
  • 1960-12-22 … Atlanta, GA — Roxy (13)
  • 1960-12-22 … Cincinnati, OH — Grand (13)
  • 1960-12-22 … Cleveland, OH — Palace (16)
  • 1960-12-22 … Houston, TX — Delman (12)
  • 1960-12-22 … Montreal, QC — Alouette (22)
  • 1960-12-22 … Pittsburgh, PA — Nixon (12)
  • 1960-12-22 … St. Louis (Richmond Heights), MO — Esquire (15)
  • 1960-12-22 … St. Petersburg, FL — Center (11)
  • 1960-12-22 … San Francisco, CA — United Artists (15)
  • 1960-12-22 … Seattle, WA — Music Box (15)
  • 1960-12-22 … Toronto, ON — Uptown (18)
  • Spartacus Pantages ad LA Times1961-01-18 … Washington, DC — Warner (24)
  • 1961-01-19 … Baltimore, MD — Town (11)
  • 1961-01-19 … Denver, CO — Aladdin (22)
  • 1961-02-01 … Milwaukee, WI — Towne (11)
  • 1961-02-02 … Portland, OR — Broadway (8)
  • 1961-02-02 … Salt Lake City, UT — Centre (15)
  • 1961-02-21 … Kansas City, MO — Capri (26)
  • 1961-03-08 … Dallas, TX — Capri (9)
  • 1961-03-09 … Indianapolis, IN — Lyric (10)
  • 1961-03-09 … Vancouver, BC — Strand (18)
  • 1961-03-16 … Louisville, KY — Brown (8)
  • 1961-03-16 … Minneapolis, MN — Mann (12)
  • 1961-03-16 … Rochester, NY — Monroe (19)
  • 1961-03-23 … Syracuse, NY — Eckel (11)
  • 1961-04-20 … Oklahoma City, OK — Criterion (26)
  • 1961-05-04 … Buffalo, NY — Granada (12)
  • 1961-05-19 … Phoenix, AZ — Palms (8)
  • 1961-05-19 … Tucson, AZ — Catalina (6)
  • 1961-05-25 … Albany, NY — Ritz (9)
  • 1961-05-25 … Asbury Park, NJ — St. James (17)
  • 1961-05-25 … Atlantic City, NJ — Virginia (?)
  • 1961-05-25 … Omaha, NE — Dundee (18)
  • 1961-05-25 … Richmond, VA — Willow Lawn (12)
  • 1961-05-25 … San Antonio, TX — Woodlawn (12)
  • 1961-06-14 … Scranton, PA — West Side (?)
  • 1961-06-15 … Honolulu, HI — Kuhio (?)
  • 1961-06-22 … Columbus, OH — Cinestage (21)
  • 1961-06-22 … Toledo, OH — Pantheon (12)
  • 1961-06-23 … Charlotte, NC — Center (5)
  • 1961-06-23 … Des Moines, IA — Capri (?)
  • 1961-06-23 … Memphis, TN — Crosstown (11)
  • 1961-06-28 … Washington, DC — Uptown (move over from Warner, 11 [35])
  • 1961-08-09 … San Diego, CA — Capri (20)
  • 1961-09-14 … Providence, RI — Elmwood (8)

The first international roadshow presentation commenced on December 8th, 1960, at the Metropole in London.

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Spartacus program painting

IMAGES

Copyright/courtesy Bryna Productions/Universal-International/Universal Studios Home Entertainment

SOURCES/REFERENCES

The primary references for this project were newspaper articles and advertisements archived on microfilm and the periodicals Boxoffice, The Film Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Motion Picture Herald, and Variety.  This is a revised and updated version of a previously-published article.

SPECIAL THANKS

Jerry Alexander, Jim Barg, Raymond Caple, Robert A. Harris, Martin Hart, Mark Huffstetler, Bill Kretzel, Mark Lensenmayer, Rick Mitchell, Robert Morrow, Gabriel Neeb, Bob Throop, Vince Young, and to the librarians who helped with the research for this project.

- Michael Coate

Spartacus: Restored Edition (Blu-ray Disc)

 

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