Movie attendance drops as television rapidly gains in popularity. To
bring moviegoers back to the cinema, producers introduce effects-laden
spectacles and larger-than-life film formats like Cinemascope, Todd-AO,
VistaVision, and 3-D.
George Pal produces "Destination Moon," a tale of lunar travel that snares the
Oscar for effects and ushers in a decade of science fiction features with
high-profile special effects. In addition to Pal's Oscar-winning "When
Worlds Collide" (1951) and "War of the Worlds" (1953), audiences throng to "The
Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951), "Forbidden Planet" (1956) and "Earth Vs. the
Flying Saucers "(1956).
Cecil B. DeMille tackles "The Ten Commandments" for the second time. The Red
Sea parting is considerably more elaborate than the Jello slab of the 1923
version, involving a blue-screen Charlton Heston, miniatures, pyrotechnics, 600
extras, matte paintings, and a 32-foot high dam channeling tens of thousands of
gallons of water. Insiders speculate that the gag cost about two and a half
years and $2 million—the most expensive special effect to date.