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“Ben-Hur” 50th Anniversary
The Roadshow Engagements

Read more at
in70mm.com
The 70mm Newsletter
Compiled by: Michael Coate, Hollywood, USADate: 08.04.2010
Commemorating the golden anniversary of the release of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s 1959 production of “Ben-Hur”, I would like to present a list of the award-winning film’s original North American roadshow engagements.

This (work-in-progress) article was created for the sake of nostalgia and historical record and is a celebration of the (mostly) long-gone but fondly-remembered cinemas in which the film played as much as it is a celebration of the classic film.

The bookings are listed chronologically by premiere date (day.month.year). Duration data has been included for selected entries, many of which are/were a record for a given market or cinema.

Many of the roadshow engagements of “Ben-Hur” were presented in 70-millimeter and six-track stereophonic sound, including every booking during the first six months of the film’s release. Thereafter, MGM circulated both 70mm and 35mm prints, and which type of print got booked in a given market was determined on a case-by-case basis.

 
More in 70mm reading:

Ultra Panavision 70 - almost like a real story

Motion pictures photographed in MGM Camera 65 / Ultra Panavision 70

To commemorate William Wyler's monumental epic "BEN-HUR" shot in MGM's Camera 65

Internet link:

 

Release dates (day.month.year)

 
18.11.1959 … New York, NY – State (74 weeks)
23.11.1959 … Boston, MA – Saxon (76 weeks; includes moveover to Capri)
24.11.1959 … Los Angeles, CA – Egyptian (98 weeks)
24.11.1959 … Philadelphia, PA – Boyd (62 weeks)

17.12.1959 … Montreal, QC – Alouette (52 weeks)
18.12.1959 … Dallas, TX – Tower
23.12.1959 … Chicago, IL – Michael Todd (74 weeks)
23.12.1959 … Miami Beach, FL – Lincoln
23.12.1959 … San Francisco, CA – Coronet (75 weeks)
23.12.1959 … Toronto, ON – University (71 weeks)
25.12.1959 … Atlanta, GA – Roxy

19.01.1960 … Portland, OR – Music Box (52 weeks)
20.01.1960 … Pittsburgh, PA – Warner (48 weeks)
28.01.1960 … Cleveland, OH – Ohio (46 weeks)
28.01.1960 … Kansas City, MO – Capri (50 weeks)

03.02.1960 … Seattle, WA – Blue Mouse (55 weeks)
04.02.1960 … St. Petersburg, FL – Center (34 weeks)
17.02.1960 … Detroit, MI – United Artists (65 weeks)
19.02.1960 … Minneapolis, MN – Academy (49 weeks)
19.02.1960 … Omaha, NE – Cooper (48 weeks)
23.02.1960 … Indianapolis, IN – Lyric (36 weeks)

02.03.1960 … Salt Lake City, UT – Centre (38 weeks)
02.03.1960 … Vancouver, BC – Stanley (54 weeks)
15.03.1960 … Buffalo, NY – Teck (40 weeks)
15.03.1960 … Washington, DC – Warner (44 weeks)
16.03.1960 … Cincinnati, OH – Capitol (40 weeks)
29.03.1960 … Baltimore, MD – Town (43 weeks)

12.04.1960 … Denver, CO – Denham (58 weeks)
12.04.1960 … Milwaukee, WI – Strand (49 weeks)
13.04.1960 … Ottawa, ON – Nelson (28 weeks)
29.04.1960 … Houston, TX – Tower

12.05.1960 … Columbus, OH – Cinestage (40 weeks)
13.05.1960 … Rochester, NY – Riviera
13.05.1960 … San Antonio, TX – Broadway (22 weeks)
19.05.1960 … DeWitt (Syracuse), NY – Shoppingtown (31 weeks)
19.05.1960 … Hartford, CT – Strand (25 weeks)
19.05.1960 … Louisville, KY – Brown
20.05.1960 … Youngstown, OH – State (25 weeks)
26.05.1960 … Asbury Park, NJ – St. James
26.05.1960 … St. Louis, MO – Mid-City (27 weeks)
27.05.1960 … Atlantic City, NJ – Embassy
27.05.1960 … Wildwood, NJ – Regent

09.06.1960 … Birmingham, AL – Ritz
10.06.1960 … Charlotte, NC – Plaza (17 weeks)
10.06.1960 … Chattanooga, TN – Rogers
10.06.1960 … El Paso, TX – Pershing (15 weeks)
15.06.1960 … Dayton, OH – McCook
15.06.1960 … Richmond, VA – Willow Lawn
16.06.1960 … Charleston, WV – Capitol (12 weeks)
16.06.1960 … Nashville, TN – Crescent
16.06.1960 … San Diego, CA – Capri (49 weeks)
17.06.1960 … Grand Rapids, MI – Majestic
23.06.1960 … New Orleans, LA – Civic
23.06.1960 … Oklahoma City, OK – Cooper (29 weeks)
24.06.1960 … Providence, RI – Elmwood
29.06.1960 … Halifax, NS – Paramount
30.06.1960 … Albuquerque, NM – Lobo
30.06.1960 … Wichita, KS – Palace

06.07.1960 … Honolulu, HI – Kuhio
15.07.1960 … Spokane, WA – Post (12 weeks)
21.07.1960 … Fort Worth, TX – 7th Street
29.07.1960 … Austin, TX – Varsity (10 weeks)
29.07.1960 … New Haven, CT – Whalley (36 weeks)

10.08.1960 … Jacksonville, FL – Center
17.08.1960 … Winnipeg, MB – Gaiety (34 weeks)
25.08.1960 … Lexington, KY – Strand

14.09.1960 … Calgary, AB – Capitol (8 weeks)
23.09.1960 … Corpus Christi, TX – Tower (7 weeks)
28.09.1960 … Albany, NY – Ritz
28.09.1960 … Edmonton, AB – Paramount (9 weeks)
29.09.1960 … Erie, PA – Strand
29.09.1960 … Fall River, MA – Center (10 weeks)
29.09.1960 … Springfield, MA – Arcade

06.10.1960 … Sacramento, CA – Alhambra (14 weeks)
06.10.1960 … Scranton, PA – Center
06.10.1960 … Toledo, OH – Princess (17 weeks)
07.10.1960 … Lubbock, TX – Village (11 weeks)
12.10.1960 … Madison, WI – Strand (9 weeks)
13.10.1960 … Reno, NV – Crest (6 weeks)
13.10.1960 … Utica, NY – Uptown
14.10.1960 … Tulsa, OK – Premiere
14.10.1960 … Worcester, MA – Warner
19.10.1960 … Springfield, MO – Tower
20.10.1960 … Eugene, OR – Heilig (8 weeks)

01.11.1960 … Las Vegas, NV – Huntridge (8 weeks)
02.11.1960 … Phoenix, AZ – Vista
03.11.1960 … Lawton, OK – Vaska (8 weeks)
10.11.1960 … Abilene, TX – Queen
10.11.1960 … Cedar Rapids, IA – World (11 weeks)
10.11.1960 … Des Moines, IA – Capri
10.11.1960 … Salina, KS – Strand (5 weeks)
10.11.1960 … Waco, TX – 25th Street (5 weeks)
17.11.1960 … Altoona, PA – State (7 weeks)
17.11.1960 … Amarillo, TX – Esquire (4 weeks)
18.11.1960 … Terre Haute, IN – Grand

21.12.1960 … Tucson, AZ – Catalina (11 weeks)
22.12.1960 … Herrin, IL – Marlow’s
23.12.1960 … Manchester, NH – State
24.12.1960 … Modesto, CA – State (4 weeks)
25.12.1960 … Fredericksburg, VA – Colonial
28.12.1960 … Myrphysboro, IL – Marlow’s
30.12.1960 … Lowell, MA – Strand

12.01.1961 … Nashua, NH – Daniel Webster
25.01.1961 … Pittsfield, MA – Berkshire

08.02.1961 … Newark, NJ – Adams

In addition to the bookings listed above, I believe “Ben-Hur” played roadshow engagements in the markets listed below. Additional research is necessary to verify premiere dates and missing cinema names.

??.??.1960 … Akron, OH – State
??.??.1960 … Allentown, PA – ?
??.??.1960 … Beaumont, TX – Liberty
??.??.1960 … Canton, OH – ?
??.??.1960 … Dubuque, IA – Orpheum
??.??.1960 … Evansville, IN – ?
??.??.1960 … Fort Wayne, IN – ?
??.??.1960 … Fargo, ND – Grand
??.??.1960 … Flint, MI – ?
??.??.1960 … Fresno, CA – Hardy’s
??.??.1960 … Harrisburg, PA – State
??.??.1960 … Little Rock, AR – Capitol
??.??.1960 … Memphis, TN – Palace
??.??.1960 … New Bedford, MA – State
??.??.1960 … Norfolk, VA – ?
??.??.1960 … Orlando, FL – ?
??.??.1960 … Peoria, IL – ?
??.??.1960 … Portland, ME – Strand
??.??.1960 … Raleigh, NC – Ambassador
??.??.1960 … Rock Island, IL – Rocket
??.??.1960 … Saginaw, MI – ?
??.??.1960 … Shreveport, LA – ?
??.??.1960 … Sioux City, IA – ?
??.??.1960 … Sioux Falls, SD – ?
??.??.1960 … Springfield, IL – ?
??.??.1960 … Springfield, OH – Regent
??.??.1960 … Tyler, TX – ?
??.??.1960 … Wichita Falls, TX – State
 
 

Sources/References

 
The first international booking (at the Empire in London) commenced in December 1959.

The general release began, in most markets, in 1961.

“Ben-Hur” was re-released in 1968.

The film’s first network television broadcast was in 1971.

References: This (work-in-progress) article was compiled primarily by referencing “Ben-Hur” coverage in film industry trade publications and newspaper promotion.

Thanks: Jerry Alexander, Claude Ayakawa, William Hooper, Mark Huffstetler, Bill Kretzel, Mark Lensenmayer, Rick Mitchell, Gabriel Neeb, Jim Perry, John Stewart, Bob Throop, Vince Young, and the librarians who helped me research information for this project.
 
 
 
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