|Excerpt from exhibitor guide for Battle Circus (1953)|
Over the past week I have surveyed the collection of Exhibitors Manuals (also known as "Promotion Manuals" or "Showman's Guides") at the Pacific Film Archive (PFA). These manuals were (and are) created by film distributors and provided to theatre operators to assist them in building promotional campaigns. One particularly useful aspect of these guides is that each contains photos and detailed listings for the publicity material that was created for any given title, such as: posters, lobby cards, photo stills, banners, handbills, advertising copy, and (of course) slides. This information not only indicates whether slides were created for a specific film, the data can also be aggregated to provide insight into broader promotional strategies.
|Excerpt from exhibitor guide for Take Her, She's Mine (1963)|
These slides were broadcast on-air to promote currently playing motion pictures and generally featured an announcer's voice-over while the static image occupied the screen. These spots typically lasted 10 or 20 seconds and often included the broadcaster's station identification announcement. In fact, the slides were often offered with or without the option of having the broadcaster's identification included on the slide.
The earliest instance of a Telop slide in the PFA's collection of over 800 exhibitor guides is Goldwyn's 1952 production of Hans Christian Andersen, and the latest instance is (of all things) 20th Century Fox's 1965 teenage romp, Wild on the Beach. I have found no further instances of Telop slides within the PFA collection later than 1965.
As the graph below indicates, the appearance and timing of these Telops slides coincides almost exactly with the demise of in-cinema slides. In cinematic terms, slide use in the mid-1950's essentially did a cross-fade from cinema audiences to the television audience. Within their collection, the PFA has 348 exhibitor manuals from the years 1950-1967. While admittedly this is not a true random sample of American cinema during this period, calculating a percentage of films which included a cinema slide as a promotional item versus those that utilized a Telop slide, clearly indicates the change-over that occurred during that time frame.
|Sample of 348 Exhibitor Manuals from PFA collection 1950-1967. Percentage of manuals offering Telop slides versus those offering traditional in-cinema slides.|
|Excerpt from exhibitor guide for Jailhouse Rock (1957)|
Unfortunately I was unable to find video of actual coming attraction Telops broadcast (not surprising actually, I'd be shocked to learn that any were taped and/or that the tapes had survived), but here's a YouTube clip from ABC demonstrating the general idea...