Roadshow theatrical release  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The roadshow theatrical release (also commonly known as reserved seat engagement) is a practice in which a film opens in a special limited number of theaters in large cities like Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco for a specific period of time before it spreads to nationwide release (also known as general release and wide release).

Unlike the common modern-day limited release, roadshow films were run only once or twice a day, and were shown to audiences who had had to reserve their seats and were given or able to purchase program books, as they did with live theater productions. Road show films were nearly always shown with an intermission either halfway or two-thirds of the way into the film. Most films shown in this format were movies that were two-and-a-half hours or longer in length, and admission prices were more expensive than those films shown as regular attractions. Many of the films given roadshow releases were subsequently distributed to regular theater houses. This was called a general release, and was akin to the modern day wide release of a film.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Roadshow theatrical release" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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