How Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho Changed Movie Theaters Forever

With his haunting and frightening Psycho, master of thrill Alfred Hitchcock ignited a revolution in cinemas around the world. We explain how and why.

Perhaps not everyone knows that once upon a time there were no shows in cinemas. A cinema owner would choose a film and show it from a certain time of day until evening on a loop, so that latecomers could stay in the theater and make up for what they had lost. It seems strange, but several people entered the film started or even halfway through. Then there were the fans of the seventh art, who perhaps remained curled up in the armchairs, pretended to be vague when the lights went on and, when the film started again, watched it again

In the seventies and eighties in Italy there were show times, but at the end of the film no one invited the spectators to leave the theater through secondary exits, and therefore, depending on the time, whoever wanted could stay. Without explaining how theaters work today, we want to share with you an interesting piece of news reported by the collider site, which informs that, if there is programming in cinemas, the credit goes to a great film: Psycho Of Alfred Hitchcock.

Alfred Hitchcock master of thrill and first enemy of the spoiler

We already knew that the frightening and disturbing film directed by the master of thrill from 1960 was of great importance. The shower scene with Janeth Leigh stabbed to death has entered the myth and there is a remake of the film Gus Van Sant identical to the original in every single scene, all in color. Psycho has also inspired a beautiful TV series with Freddy Highmore by title Bates Motel. But let’s not go off the rails and go back to show times.

Well, for Alfred Hitchcock Psycho it was a very important film. The director absolutely did not want his creature to be ruined with spoilers of various kinds and even from the trailer it was not clear what he would have done Norman Bates. For this reason it was important that viewers see the film from the beginning, in this specific case also to enjoy the view of Janet Leigh, who, surprisingly, although indicated as the female protagonist of the film, soon disappeared. Thus, not only were different start times for the film established, but, at least in the United States, latecomers were barred from entering the theatre. Since this was a novelty, posters were put up in the cinemas explaining the new rule. And in these posters (and here comes the good Alfred) was right there Hitchcock, pointing menacingly at his watch. An inscription invited to see Psycho from beginning to end and communicated to the viewer that the owner of the theater had received death threats: if he let anyone in mid-show, he would be killed. Even those who tried to sneak in would find an ominous fate awaiting them.

The new regulation benefited the industry and for people going to the cinema became an event, linked to a specific place and time. Furthermore, the presence of a short interval between one show and another, allowed the cinema staff to clean the room easily and better. The same Alfred Hitchcock he experienced the benefits of the change, because the audience was able to fully understand the plot of his films, to fear for the fate of his characters and to tremble with fear. Here is the famous intimidating poster:

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