If there’s one thing we love here at the Cult Film Club it’s scoping old newspaper advertisements for some of our favorite films. So let’s take a second to jump back in the DeLorean and take a trip to December 17th, 1982 for a banner day in puppetry history as the world witnessed the debut of Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal in theaters.
These first couple of ads are from the New York Times, from December 17th, 1982 and the 18th respectively.
Both of these feature the main US theatrical poster in its entirety, and a theme I noticed for this film is that most other papers followed suit (at least drawing from the Richard Ames imagery.)
The above piece is from the Dessert News on December 17th.
Let’s switch gears for a second and look at some larger sections of the paper to see other flicks also playing at the time, like this piece from the Tuscaloosa News also on December 17th, 1982. I love this scan as not only does it feature another of my favorite movies (The Toy), but it also showcases the weekend midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture show that were going strong years after its initial release.
How about this great double feature from The Spokane Chronicle (December 17th) that pairs Dark Crystal with the held-over mega hit E.T. (complete with holiday ribbon adorning the ad artwork.) This sounds like a perfect afternoon in the theaters to me…
What about this rad spread from the December 17th issue of The Lawrence World Journal featuring Dark Crystal amongst much more adult fare like Kiss Me Goodbyr, Walter Hill’s 48 Hours, and the very odd The Missionary starring Monty Python’s Michael Palin?! Also love that there were still held-over screening of The Empire Strikes Back two years after it originally hit theaters.
Towards the end of the month there was this ad from The Lakeland Ledger (December 31st of 82). It still uses imagery from the Ames painting, but with the individual characters removed and rearranged. I also thought this ad was interesting because it dropped the Chamberlin from the campaign in favor of the Mystic and Aughra…
Let’s take this trip international by checking out this advertisement for the film in The Calgary Herald (from January 14th, 1983). How crazy is it that you could scope The Dark Crystal and a porno flick in the same theater?!
Last, but not least, let’s take a look at these two very similar ads from The Milwaukee Sentinel and The Lawrence World Journal, both from December 31st, 1982. Though the movie was generally a decent hit, we were already staring to see theaters declaring the film held-over after it was only in theaters for two weeks. That’s fairly odd for the time when it was very common for films to be showcased for at least a month or more before they were considered a bit long in the tooth.