Pressbooks were created to provide theater owners with the information and materials needed to promote a given film. Pressbooks contained information on the actors, illustrations of film posters, newspaper ad slicks, movie notes, tie-in ideas and other promotional materials including ready-made film reviews.
The National Screen Service (NSS) was responsible for the distribution of advertising and promotional materials to theaters for all films from the 1940’s through the 1980’s. Movie theater managers could order the promotion materials and movie posters that they wanted from the pressbook. The NSS would then ship the materials and charge the theater. The theater manager would then use the interesting tidbits, facts, trivia and pictures in their ads with the local newspapers to generate interest in the film they would be showing. They would use the movie posters and lobby cards to promote the films within their theatre.
After the movies run, the theater manager would then discard the used pressbook. The theaters were instructed to either destroy the movie posters themselves or send them back to NSS to be destroyed. Pressbooks and posters were never meant to be made available to the public. Therefore, pressbooks, like movie posters are highly collectable as they are rare.
The Museum of UnCut Funk collection includes 25 pressbooks from films of the 1970’s Blaxploitation era.