Coming soon to this theatre

Every movie buff knows that coming attractions have been around for decades, but they’ve not always been filmed.

The earliest on-screen announcements of pictures that were to soon to play at a given theatre, back in the days of silent pictures, came in the form of painted glass lantern slides that were projected on the silver screen between showings of that night’s feature picture. Examples of those slides still exist, and are considered highly collectible.

We own no such slide ourselves, though we’ve seen some in action at the Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo, California, an historic bijou that was built in 1921 and today screens silent and vintage pictures, with pre-show performances on a Wurlitzer organ and, yes, vintage glass lantern slides touting attractions that were once, y’know, coming.

We recently came across Starts Thursday, a delightfully addictive blog that explores the history of the motion picture coming attraction slide. As is explained on the site, “‘Coming Attractions’ have been part of the American cinema-going experience since 1912. STARTS THURSDAY! is devoted to the most unique and aesthetic medium of cinematic promotion, the glass lantern slide.”

If you have the least interest in this now relatively obscure chapter of motion picture history, we urge you to hie thee to Starts Thursday, and pronto.

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