The "STEPPING OUT" Story

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"Stepping Out" was the Varsity Theatre's Christmas attraction in 1991, opening Dec. 25.

Negotiations with Paramount to book it for the Varsity started the previous March!

The picture, about a tap dancing class and its diverse students, starred Liza Minnelli and an ensemble cast. Apparently it didn't test well in early engagements in Oct. 1991, so Paramount washed its hands of it.

The Varsity ended up playing the picture for 10 weeks. It would have run longer if Paramount hadn't needed the print elsewhere. (Read the 1/31/92 ad for the "Dear John" story) It turned out they had made only a handful of prints. Undoubtedly the Des Moines run was the most successful run "Stepping Out" had.

We tell this story to point out how Varsity owner Bev Mahon was often able to make successful engagements out of pictures which would have been considered long-shots.

As you'll see below, all the "Stepping Out" advertising was written by him. You don't see theatre owners making up ads anymore. He knew his audience, and knew what they would come to see. This is often lost on film distributors and advertising agencies.

(To this day, "Stepping Out" is a forgotten film, briefly released on VHS and no DVD release. A couple of clips can be seen on You Tube).

CLICK on the newspaper ads for larger sizes, which will open in a new window

Opening Day ad 12/25/91

1/17/92

1/24/92

1/31/92

2/7/92

The "arty" campaign which didn't sell the picture. "Ads that were too arty to interest people," said Mr. Varsity


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