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The exhibitor book announced some of the films each studio was going to release in the upcoming year as well as films that were planned or in production. Sometimes, between the time the film was announced and when it was actually released, the title or even the star of the film would change. Many times, the studio would skip the specifics and just say a particular star or director would be releasing two films in the upcoming year. Exhibitor books often featured dazzling illustrations or photographs by some of the top artists in the film industry.
The oldest material at the WCFTR comes from the world of the theater. The Center has some marvelous posters for theater productions and shows dating back to around 1860. Posters helped entice people to buy a ticket for the latest comedy or melodrama and sometimes the action on the poster matched the action on the stage. The 1899 production of Ben-Hur at the Broadway Theatre included the famous chariot race with a rotating backdrop and horses running on treadmills built into the stage.
The Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research is celebrating our 60th anniversary in 2020! Over the course of the next year, we will be highlighting 60 items or collections from the archives that will show what makes the WCFTR a research destination for scholars from all over the world. We can’t wait to share with you a few of the treasures we get to see all the time from the worlds of film, television, and theater. Check our website or Facebook page to see the items and stay tuned for “extras” like special videos and podcast episodes focusing on WCFTR donors and collections.