Vaudeville: The Standard in Exhibition Practices

Vaudeville set the patterns of exhibition that were eventually adapted by the movies. Because motion-picture subjects were short, it was necessary to exhibit them in programs, and like vaudeville programs, motion-picture programs had to display variety while maintaining a fairly heady pace. Vaudeville also established the policy of continuous shows: with each program starting over when the prior program was finished, spectators could come and go at their leisure and still catch the whole show. Coupled with the need to change programs on a regular basis, this policy created a constant demand for fresh product that was even more critical to motion pictures, especially with the advent of specialized movie theaters. Finally, like vaudeville, the movies sought an audience that was broader than the urban-immigrant and working classes: both sought respectability by appealing to middle-class families.

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