When The Sound of Music, starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, opened with a gala premiere at the Carolina in March of 1965, local advertisements boasted that the theater was just one of twenty five in the country—and the only movie house in the Carolinas—where the movie was being shown. A film adaptation of a Broadway musical, The Sound of Music was based on the true-life story of the Von Trapp Family Singers in Austria on the eve of World War II.
A huge hit with audiences around the country, the film drew moviegoers to Charlotte from throughout the surrounding area. In October of 1965, mid-way through the movie’s run in Charlotte, local officials announced that the Carolina was receiving an outstanding achievement certificate from the 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, for being the first theater in the world where attendance at The Sound of Music had exceeded the population in the city where it was being shown.
Surpassing 247,000, attendance at the film numbered tens of thousands more than were living in Charlotte at the time, and it was estimated that 100,000 audience members traveled to the Carolina from outside the city to see The Sound of Music. Additionally, it was announced that The Sound of Music had broken three records at the Carolina—for length of run, dollar gross and total attendance. And its record-breaking run wasn’t over yet. The Sound of Music did not wind down until a year later, in October of 1966, making its 79-week run the longest for any film shown in the history of the Carolina Theatre.
Charlotte Observer, March 28, March 31, November 18, November 21, 1965; October 2, October 4, 1966.