Often dismissed today as just another of the overblown 1960s movie musicals, 1968's CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG actually was a much bigger deal than I remember! Based on the late Ian Fleming's children's book about an eccentric English family and their flying car, the film began shooting in late Spring of 1967 with a long shooting schedule planned to lead into the Fall. Starring Dick Van Dyke and former UK child star Sally Anne Howes, scenes were still being shot into the early Spring of '68! The film was set for a December, 1968 release as a roadshow attraction, something that no longer exists. These were the mega-releases in exclusive theaters with advance-ordered, higher-priced (in this case $2.50 at a time when theaters mostly charged 50 cents to get in) reserved seating only. It would be months before CHITTY parked at any neighborhood theaters in the Spring of 1969.
The book itself was only a few years old but just to make sure people were talking about the movie in the lead-up to its release, the ads seen here began appearing as early as April of '68!
In England, Princess Anne attended to official royal world premiere. The US Midwest premiere was a charity event at Cincinnati's new Cine Carousel Theater with its gigantic screen.
I couldn't find the exact date it moved across the Ohio River into Kentucky, here, but it seems to have been some point between February and June of 1969. That was when I had my first date, age 10, with my 5th grade girlfriend Debbie. We saw it one Saturday afternoon at the once-regal but now nearing its demise Liberty Theater in Covington, KY, with sticky floors, uncomfortably ripped and torn seats, and not many other patrons.
Debbie and I liked it, but many of the critics and moviegoers at the time were less appreciative. CHITTY has become a cult film over the years, though.