See the World for 10c A Day
100 years ago, going to the movies was often less about seeing this or that film so much as going to the local movie house where the manager would curate a spectatorial experience for you. It’s not so unlike turning on the TV to see what’s on.
While other movie theaters promised a variety of genres, this ad for The Gem Theatre in Cedar City Utah, which ran in the Iron County Record 100 years ago today tries to draw patrons in with the promise that they will “See the World” through motion pictures which “bring all the important and noted places of interest and noted places of interest.” This is evidence of an interesting alternative appeal of the cinema, an appeal that wasn’t about going to see a story but going to see a sight, a virtual voyage, if you will.
Standard film histories say that this type of appeal, which was quite common in the early days (1895 – 1906), was on the wane by 1912. Was proprietor C. S. Wilkinson behind the times? Is this why the Gem theater was closed by 1914? Or was he just giving Cedar City residents what they wanted to see?