According to Wikipedia, Alfred Hitchcock mandated that movie theaters could not allow late viewers to come into Psycho after it began.

The most controversial move was Hitchcock's "no late admission" policy for the film, which was unusual for the time. It was not entirely original as Clouzot had done the same in France for Diabolique. Hitchcock thought that if people entered the theater late and never saw the star actress Janet Leigh, they would feel cheated. At first theater owners opposed the idea, claiming that they would lose business. However, after the first day, the owners enjoyed long lines of people waiting to see the film.

How did Hitchcock enforce this restriction? I find it hard to imagine in our modern day that Steven Spielberg, for instance, could tell every movie theater in America how to run their operations.

  • 2
    Few link say he insisted not enforced but not sure
    – Ankit Sharma
    Jan 15, 2018 at 7:47
  • 2
    You would have to arrive very late to miss Janet Leigh. Jan 15, 2018 at 22:35
  • When Star Wars episode VII came out, Disney enforced the theatres not to accept any reduced price ticket so that the record could be established (at least in my country every theatre was forced to reject those tickets)
    – frarugi87
    Jan 16, 2018 at 8:53
  • As for "modern day", I remember that when Return of the King came out, cinemas got a recommendation from the director about when should they have a break if they do (cannot find an online source now), so to some extent, they can be told "how to run their operations"
    – molnarm
    Jan 16, 2018 at 10:57
  • @frarugi87 - That is fairly typical. That's what "special engagement" means, and a lot of movies that come out have that designation. It means that exclusive of a few types of comp tickets, no discounts or free tickets can be used. (And theater employees may be limited in being able to see it for free as well, which is a perk of working at a theater).
    – JohnP
    Jan 16, 2018 at 19:23

1 Answer 1


Enforcement is perhaps not the word.

Although the movie studios had considerable sway and influence over theatre owners at the time they could not insist that the owners maintain the policy of "no late admission". It's possible that they could have included a clause into the contracts to this effect but it seems that the studio went for persuasion instead.

What happened was the the studio created a "policy" of "no late admission" and demonstrated to the theatre owners that the policy was good for business.

There was heavy marketing of the director's "requirement" that viewers watched the whole film from the beginning.

The studio created a "movie" as part of their press pack which was given to theatre owners to promote the policy. It can be found on YouTube.

There were "preview / demonstration" showings...

Showings of the film began on a tightly-controlled schedule in theatres in New York, Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia. And a firm "no late admission" policy was put in place. You either saw the film from the very beginning, or you didn't see it all. Signs appeared in front of cinemas reading:

"We won't allow you to cheat yourself. You must see PSYCHO from the very beginning. Therefore, do not expect to be admitted into the theatre after the start of each performance of the picture. We say no one -- and we mean no one -- not even the manager's brother, the President of the United States, or the Queen of England (God bless her)!"


All in all, it seems that by convincing the theater owners that the policy would actually increase revenue they persuaded them to "enforce" the rule as it was to everyone's benefit.

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  • 19
    Now, we need a question asking if the Queen of England has seen Psycho.
    – Taladris
    Jan 15, 2018 at 20:57
  • 5
    @Taladris no, unfortunately she was late.
    – Tom Bowen
    Jan 16, 2018 at 9:03
  • 9
    @Tom.Bowen89 The Queen, Tom, no matter what time she arrives is always on time. Those that arrive before her Majesty are early; those that arrive after her Majesty are late. It is good to be the Queen. Jan 16, 2018 at 12:20
  • 4
    The last person to hold the title "Queen of England" was Anne, who was also the first "Queen of Great Britain", so it's safe to say that she has not. Elizabeth II is "Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" (her titles for Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc. are separate), so calling her "Queen of Britain" at least uses one of the words actually in that title. Calling her "Queen of England" is like calling Donald Trump "President of New York". Yes, England is part of the UK, and NY is part of the US. But the titles are based on the whole, not the part. Jan 16, 2018 at 16:56
  • 1
    @DavidStarkey She is the Queen of Canada, Queen of Australia (etc. and several others) also, independently. Those places are not part of the UK, but have the same constitutional monarch (personal union). The UK, however, is a single country with an overarching government.
    – hobbs
    Jan 16, 2018 at 18:15

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