Industrial Revolution: Cinema

Look quickly to your right for the Cinema Scene because times they are a changin’ at a rapid pace!   This one has been a challenge to fit into the timeline before the 2008 refurb.  Let’s start with the original version.  It starts with a grand cinema marquee and a woman in a ticket booth.

Spaceship Earth original sene with Cinema in lights and screens showing different movies

Original theater marquees had hundreds, if not thousands, of cluster bulbs (1)
advertising the theater.  This is before neon had become mainstream.  There is a classic ornate movie screen complete with the red curtain.   Curtains haven’t covered movie screens since theater owners realized the blank screen could be used as billboards – these screens are now a stream of constant ads (2).

Spaceship Earth Scene under the sign shows the curtain over the theater screen

The theater screen is showing an iconic chase scene from a black and white silent film – Girl Shy from 1924 starring Harold Lloyd.  There were two other screens displaying films.

The second screen first showed the Cheek to Cheek scene from Top Hat, the 1935 film starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.  It was later changed to the first full length animated feature film, Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from 1937.

The third screen features Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea from 1954 starring Kirk Douglas.  I can’t remember if other scenes were ever on display and watching old ride throughs it can also blend in with the images from the TV scene ahead.

The cinema is great and 1924 – 1954 are certainly important years – but what does this have to do with communication?  Enter the Newsreel and the most recent refurbishment!


Americans received breaking news from the newspaper and extra editions with with minimal visual parts to the story.  Enter the Newsreel, a brief update on what’s going on in the world with moving pictures. Newsreels were commonly shown prior to the main feature and was the only way most people first saw actual film footage of events like the Hindenburg explosion or the Olympic games (2).

Spaceship Earth scene shows the animatronic ticket taker in a ticket booth

This particular newsreel is brought to us by “Movie News” but in reality after 1926 there were 5 big newsreel companies: Fox Movietone, Paramount, Universal, Warner-Pathe (owned by RKO after 1931), and Hearst Metrotone (released by MGM, renamed News of the Day in 1936) (3).  This newsreel tells us of Jesse Owens winning the Gold in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Spaceship Earth scene shows close up of animatronic ticket taker reading the paper about Owens winning the gold

The woman in the ticket booth is now featured reading the newspaper, the New York Daily, the same news outlet from the steam-press days 70 years ago.  This version eliminates the secondary screens in favor of the audience silhouettes watching the newsreel (4).

After the newsreel, moviegoers expected a cartoon before the feature film.   This typical arrangement is advertised explicitly on the sandwich board.

Spaceship Earth scene shows sandwichboard that lists the agenda - newsreel, cartoon short, then main feature

This day in 1936 is showing Disney’s first full color Mickey mouse cartoon short The Band Concert.

May 26, 1986 to August 15, 1994
Narrated by Walter Cronkite

Radio and movies inform and entertain millions.