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Only once or twice in a decade does a motion picture of the stature and importance of BEN-HUR come along and stimulate the interest and imagination of everyone in and out of the industry. It, therefore, deserves all the fine showmanship and care in its presentation that has been devoted to its preparation and production.
BEN-HUR has a total running time of 3 hours and 50 minutes, including the overture and intermission. It is broken down into six distinct components as follows:

1. The Overture .............................. 6 minutes
To start promptly at the advertised time.
2. The Nativity or Prologue ............. 7 minutes
No one is to be seated during this sequence.
3. The First Part ................ 2 hours, 7 minutes
4. The Intermission ....................... 15 minutes
After 11 minutes of intermission, signal booth
to start sound track intermission music and      
signal patrons to return to their seats.                
5. The Second Part .......... 1 hour, 15 minutes
6. The Close-in.


THE OVERTURE SHOULD BEGIN PROMPTLY AT THE ADVERTISED TIME OF YOUR PERFORMANCE. Do not inconvenience the great majority of your patrons who arrived on time for the few that failed to do so. During the Overture your traveler or scrim should be closed and your house lights full up.

As the Overture draws to a close, your house lights should be dimmed gradually and be out as the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer trademark hits the traveler. At this moment, your traveler is opened to the beauty of the Nativity Sequence.

NO ONE SHOULD BE SEATED DURING THE SHOWING OF THE NATIVITY SEQUENCE. Latecomers should stand to the rear of the orchestra or be kept in the lobby. A staff member would advise these patrons that the Nativity Scene is on and that they will be seated in a few minutes.

The First Part begins with the title projected on the screen, followed by the credits. At this time, latecomers may be seated quietly and with as little disturbance as possible to those already seated.

Intermission takes place 2 hours and 7 minutes after the start of the First Part. The traveler closes on the word INTERMISSION and the house lights are brought up at a moderate speed. The Intermission should not exceed a total of fifteen minutes, or be less than ten.

Eleven minutes after the Intermission begins, your projectionist should start the Intermission Music with house lights full up and traveler closed. At the same time your staff will signal the patrons by gong, chimes, or bell and the flashing of the lobby and lounge lights. You will find these combinations will encourage most of your patrons to return to their seats in time to see the beginning of the Second Part.

The Second Part begins with the first projection hitting your traveler as the Intermission Music fades and the curtain is opened to a mosaic floor design scene and lifts to the action in a Roman Bath. The Second Part lasts 1 hour and 15 minutes.

The Close-in comes as the words THE END are projected on the screen and, as the traveler is slowly closed, the house lights are brought up at moderate speed.

I. 35mm CinemaScope Prints:

a. Only mag-optical prints will be used, permitting exhibitions with full Stereophonic magnetic four-track sound reproduction. Exhibitions using single channel optical track is discouraged and will not be discussed here.

b. Every effort must be made to be absolutely certain that the four track magnetic sound and projection equipment in your theatre is completely overhauled and the necessary adjustments made so that the results on your screen and sound are as close to perfection as possible.

  • 1. 35mm prints of "Ben-Hur" will be in the standard CS version having an anamorphic factor of 2. The projector aperture size to be used is .673 high x .839 - wide.

  • 2. In order to minimize horizontal distortion, your screen curvature should be reduced or eliminated. If you install a new screen for the showing of "Ben-Hur," it should be a new, low gain type.

  • 3. Your projectors should be checked and realigned for the showing of "Ben-Hur." The best results are obtained where the screen's reflected light measures about 16- or 17-foot lamberts in the center, and not less than 14-foot lamberts on the sides.

  • 4. The sound system should be adjusted electrically to result in a flat curve from 100 to 10,000 cycles. The proper final fader or sound level control setting should be determined during the first showing with a full house.

  • 5. Your projectionist or sound technician should see that the rear speakers of the screen are properly oriented and electrically and accoustically phased to give the best results in maximum screen presence, particularly where intimate dialogue is concerned.

  • 6. The surround speaker effects of the fourth track of "Ben-Hur are extremely effective. To develop the greatest performance for your audiences, the speakers should be so placed and oriented with proper balance level as to result in an all-encompassing sound effect upon the audience without sharp direction of sound.

  • II. If special information is required by you, contact Mr. Charles Pati, M-G-M Inc., 1540 B'way, N.Y. 36, N.Y. Outline your problem in detail for a helpful solution based on experience.

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