Written by the lovely Ruth at Silver Screenings.
Before episodic television series, there were film serials at the movie theatre.
These serials were divided into chapters, about 10-20 minutes each, with a new episode each week. There were roughly 12-15 chapters per series, and each one ended in a cliffhanger with an endangered hero/heroine and gleeful villain.
These serials were often geared to children and shown during Saturday matinees, along with cartoons and a feature film or two. It was a shrewd business move, a way to fill theatre seats on an otherwise dead Saturday.
Indiana University Cinema quotes a moviegoer’s reminisces of these matinees: “The theatre was packed, nearly every seat filled with noisy, bratty kids eating sweets and popcorn…with hardly any adult supervision. It was a blast! We were in our element, our world, where we were king!