'South Pacific' at the Villa

On 31 July 1958, the Deseret News sponsored the benefit premiere of South Pacific. The proceeds of the premiere went to the Salt Lake County Association for Retarded Children. The showing was completely sold out the day before the premiere. A "standing room only" sign was hung in the box office after there was surge of last minute requests for tickets.

A group of Hawaiian dancers entertained showgoers in the lobby prior to curtain time. Orchids from Kauai, Hawaii, were flown to Salt Lake City and given to every lady attending the premiere. Hollywood star Patricia Owens was introduced in a brief program before the showing.

A section of 70mm film from
A section of 70mm film from South Pacific.
Courtesy of The American WideScreen Museum

South Pacific was the first movie shown in the Salt Lake area in TODD-AO, one of the first implementations of 70mm. The Villa installed $25,000 of new equipment for the performance. The TODD-AO screen was said to be the largest indoor screen in the Mountain West.

The Villa drew nationwide attention for its 10-month and 4-day run of South Pacific. It gross, $412,000, not counting taxes or concessions, was one of the highest in the country in proportion to the population.

Moviegoers came to the Villa from all parts of Utah, as well as southern Idaho and eastern Nevada. There were 280,000 paid admissions for the 435 performances of South Pacific, about 50,000 more than the estimated population of Salt Lake City at the time.

"Definitely Ends! Tues., June 2nd.  Walt Disney
"Definitely Ends! Tues., June 2nd.  Walt Disney's 'Sleeping Beauty' Starts Wed. June 3rd.  South Pacific cannot be seen in TODD-AO in any other theater between Denver and West Coast AS NONE IS EQUIPPED with the AUTHENTIC EQUIPMENT So Neccessary..."
Deseret News, page B6, 15 May 1959