Brow Beat

There’s No Weekend Box Office to Report, So Here’s a Box Office Report From 1922 Instead

A tinted black and white photo of Rudolph Valentino and Gloria Swanson, about to kiss; Swanson is swooning.
Rudolph Valentino and Gloria Swanson in a still from Beyond the Rocks, which was playing 98 years ago at Grauman’s Rialto. Paramount / Moving Picture World

The coronavirus pandemic has brought an end to moviegoing, and—even worse—an end to weekend box office reports. But no mere virus can stop movie lovers from obsessing over the financial results of giant entertainment conglomerates, a pastime that to this day remains the only objective way to determine which movies are good and which movies are bad. So now that we’ve reached the end of cinema, we’re starting over at the very beginning, by which we mean 1922, the year Variety started tracking box office results and film took its place among the profitable arts. Here is your Los Angeles box office report for May 5, 1922, as originally published in Variety.

Los Angeles Business Continues Sluggish

Two Holdovers Fall Off Second Week—“Isle of Zorda” Surprise

Los Angeles, May 3. There was no improvement in the business at the picture theatres last week, conditions remaining about on a par with that of the last three or four weeks, which have been sluggish. Two holdover attractions, Chaplin in “Pay Day” at the Kinema, and “Find the Woman,” at Grauman’s Rialto, both falling off noticeably as against the business of the previous week. “Pay Day” did fairly well in the first week but was decidedly off last week.

The surprise of the week came at Clune’s, where “The Isle of Zorda,” at a scale of 25 cents for matinees and 35 at night, got better than $7,000 at a house that usually does around $3,500. The feature is being held over, although this week business is falling below that done last week. “The Sheik’s Wife,” at the California, started big last week but business fell off and the attraction finished only at a fair pace.

Grauman’s—“Across the Continent” (Paramount); seats 2,300. Scale, mats. 35c, eves. 55c. Wallace Reid, star. Also “A Ladies Man,” initial comedy starring Bull Montana. Bull Montana and Chuck Reisner appeared in person all week. Reid has been a good bet in this city, although some new stars are proving more powerful at box office. This picture with an all-star cast, including Mary MacLaren and Theodore Roberts, was considered strong enough to come in during the local theatre “panic.” Business jumped at this house with the gross going to $16,000.

California—“The Sheik’s Wife” (Vitagraph); seats 2,000. Scale, mats 25–35c; eves 35–5c. Elinor’s fifty piece orchestra always a draw. Got around $12,000.

Kinema—“Pay Day” (First National); seats 1,800. Scale, mats. 28c; eves. 40c. Charlie Chaplin star. Picture in its second week. First week showed considerable strength in this house, which, although recognized in the city’s big “four,” has been running on unprofitable basis for some time. Eddie Horton’s organ recitals are proving popular. Business dropped considerably last week.

Mission—“Orphans of the Storm” (United Artists); seats 800. Scale, mats. 55c; eves. 55–80c; loges $1.50. D.W. Griffith always sure of a warm reception here; got off big first three weeks, but in line with other picture houses the Mission is feeling the general slump this week. The picture, however, is a cinch for three more weeks with a possibility of a ten-week run.

Grauman’s Rialto—“Find the Woman” (Paramount); seats 800. Scale, mats. 35c; eves. 55c. Alma Rubens, star. Business in its second week took a flop even though Sid Grauman conducting a clever exploitation campaign in the various shopping centers of the city, getting much free publicity in dailies. Replaced on Friday with “Beyond the Rocks.”

Miller’s—“The Silent Call” (First National); seats 800. The twelfth week was announced as the last, but Fred Miller plans to hold it one more, making a record run of 13 weeks. Got $5,800, a gain of $700 over previous week.