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Boxoffice-January.03.1953

BUSINESS FOR XMAS-NEW

BUSINESS FOR XMAS-NEW YEAR'S ABOVE SAME PERIOD IN 1951 Music Hall, Capitol, Roxy Set New Records; 'Moulin Rouge' Smash on Coast By FRANK LEYENDECKER NEW YORK—The Christmas-New Year's business on Broadway was above the smash business for the same period in 1951 and several records were broken, both in Manhattan and in Los Angeles. Boston and Miami Beach, according to first run reports. The Radio City Music Hall, which set a 20-year figure for the fourth week of "Million Dollar Mermaid" and the annual Nativity stage pageant, was several thousand above the previous high set during Christmas week of 1951 and the theatre reported a record 12-month gross of $6,- 855.000 with the theatre's smallest number of pictures, only ten for the year. In Los Angeles. "Moulin Rouge" had the biggest single day's gross in the history of the Fox Wilshire and a record weekly gross for any United Artists release to play the west coast showcase, according to William J. Heineman. vice-president in charge of distribution. In Boston. "Hans Chi-istian Andersen" outscored by 50 per cent the previous record holder at the Astor Theatre and the same picture played to capacity at every performance in Miami Beach. Business in New York's neighborhood houses was also exceptionally strong with houses af- with United Paramount Theatres re- filiated porting a 20 per cent increase over the same period last year, RKO Theatres and Loew's metropolitan houses also reported very good business. Detroit Gets a Suprise; Holiday Business is Up DETROIT—The Christmas holiday business proved a genuine surprise to showmen in this city, with downtown houses getting the cream of the business. An expected preholiday tlump had been the rule all over town, on top of generally low business for the past year, so that the "sneak pickup" really caught exhibitors by surprise. The boom started on Tuesday when "Bwana Devil" opened at the Madison, benefited by excellent publicity becau.se of its tridimensional novelty. Wednesday, the Michigan did very well, despite its being the day before Chri.tmas, with "The Road to Bali" opening on a traditionally poor business day. The trend continued with the Palms- State doing surprisingly well even on the early morning show—closing at 6 a. m. Christmas morning. Christmas day brought crowds to all houses. Standouts were reported in some houses One of the biggest downtown houses reported "the biggest Christmas business in several years." Predict 100 Million Boost In B. 0. Receipts by '55 WASHINGTON— Film theatre boxoffices will take in $100,000,000 more in 1955 than they did in 1951 if business activity remains at high levels, according to a Department of Commerce survey of business prospects after the defense buildup tapers off. Emphasizing that the estimates of consumer spending were not to be considered as forecasts, the Department showed prospective film theatre boxoffice at $1.3 billion in 1955, compared with actual receipts of $1.2 billion in 1951. The year 1952 will be remembered as the year in which Cinerama was introduced in New York, to rack up absolute capacity for its first 13 weeks of reserved-seat showing at the Broadway Tlieatre and the year in which "Bwana Devil" in Natural Vision opened to smash business on the west coast. It is also the year in which long runs returned to the Broadway first run houses, including 11 weeks for "The Greatest Show on Earth" at Radio City Music Hall. 11 weeks for "High Noon" at the Mayfair and runs ranging from three to six weeks lor "The Man in the White Suit." "Encore" and "The Lavender Hill Mob" and other British pictures at the art theatres in New York. For the first time since the day-and-date Broadway engagement for "Gone With the Wind" in 1939. several pictures played Broadway runs at two theatres, starting with "Quo Vadis." which played the Astor and Capitol Theatres on Broadway and continuing with "Outcast of the Islands." which played at the Victoria on Broadway and the Fine Arts Theatre, east side art house. "The Four Poster" also played at the Victoria and the Sutton, east side art house, and two more pictures, "Limelight" and "Hans Christian Ander-sen," are current at two New York first runs, "Limelight" is in its 11th weeks at the Astor on Broadway and the Trans-Lux 60th St.. where it is playing two-a-day at reserved seats, and "Hans Christian Andersen" is in its fifth big week at the Criterion on Broadway and the Paris, small art house. At the Music Hall, long lines started forming daily outside the theatre and many patrons had to wait outside for two hours and then have another wait inside until they could get seats. The Roxy. which reopened December 22 with "Stars and Stripes Forever" and Ice- Colorama. an enlarged stage show, had a sensational gross, whicli included an all-time Christmas Day record for the 25-year-old theatre. Lines stretched halfway up 50th St. during many days of Christmas week. The Capitol, which brought Johnnie Ray to head a stage show after more than a year of straight film fare, reported a record holiday weekend with over 100.000 admissions sold for the first five-day period, starting December 24. The picture was "Against All Flags" but it was crying Johnnie who drew the huge crowds. Two other records set for Christmas week in 1952 were at the Victoria, where "Come Back. Little Sheba" took in the largest sum for one day, Saturday i27i, ever taken in for a comparable period. At the east side Baronet, "The Importance of Being Earnest" set an all-time opening day gross which was onethird higher than any previous opening day at the small hou.se. which became a first run over a year ago. "This is Cinerama" also went to a new high in its 13th week at the Broadway Theatre because of seven extra holiday showings. Many of the other Broadway houses either opened earlier or gave extra late showings. And even "The Four Poster." in its 11th week at the Sutton, and "O. Henry's Full House," in its 11th week at the Trans-Lux 52nd St., both nearing the end of their runs, were above the previous weeks. Other pictures which reported sensational business included 'Hans Christian Andersen," a natural for the youngsters, which had waiting lines outside the Criterion daily during its fifth week; "April in Paris." with Sarah Vaughn heading the Paramount stage show, which had an excellent first week; "My Cousin Rachel," which was strong in its opening week at the Rivoli, and "Blackbeard, the " Pirate" and "Ruby Gentry at Loew's State and the Mayfair, respectively. Other art house product which registered strong business included: "The Promoter," in its ninth week at the Fine Arts; "Leonardo da Vinci," in its sixth week at the Guild and "Forbidden Games," which received a tremendous boost by being chosen best foreign (Continued on page 10) Los Angeles First Runs Draw Yearend Records LOS ANGELES—Business at first run theatres was sensational during the final week of the year, with records toppling like tenpins. Goldwyn's "Hans Christian Andersen" did 350 per cent at Warners Beverly, with "The Star" (20th-Foxi scoring 325 per cent at the Four Star and "Moulin Rouge" (UA) doing 280 at the Fox Wikhire. Other films doing better than double average business included: "Come Back. Little Sheba" i Paramount!, at 225 at the Fine Arts; "The Bad and the Beautiful" (MGM>. 225 per cent at the United Artists and Vogue theatres; and "Sky F\ill of Moon" (MGM). 210 per cent at the Downtown Paramount. Pictures doing close to the double average figure also included "Member of the Wedding" (Columbia), "Road to Bali" (Paramount) and "My Cousin Rachel" (20lh-Fox). BOXOFFICE January 3. 1953

TOA BOARD DECISION IS DUE ON ENTERING D OF J I6MM SUIT Third Dimensional Films, Tax Repeal, Arbitration To Be Other Highlights NEW YORK—Highlights of the Theatre Owners of America board meeting here January 25-27 will be discussions of the Department of Justice 16mm suit, third dimensional films, the national tax rep3al campaign and arbitration. Sessions will be held at the Hotel Pierre. A decision definitely will be reached on whether to intervene as a defendant in the 16mm suit, according to Herman M. Levy, general counsel. An entire day will be devoted to a study of third dimension. TO HEAR TAX DRIVE REPORT Pi'ogress of the tax repeal campaign will be noted and suggestions made, which will find their way to the Council of Motion Picture Organizations. The extent of discu.ssion of arbitration will depend on developments between now and the date of the meeting. The National Allied board will meet January 11 in New Orleans and take up the matter of arbitration. After the Justice Department cited TOA as a co-conspirator in the 16mm suit, some members recommended that TOA apply to be made a defendant in the action. Elmer Rhoden, head of National Theatres Midwest circuit, was among those urging that TOA should not be content to remain a co-conspirator, but should "join in the fight to clear our name." The Albany, N. Y. unit was among those concurring, but others expressed doubts. TOA then called on all regional units to poll • their members and report in time for the national board meeting. They were asked not only if they favored intervention procedure, but if they favored using their screens, a Congressional investigation or other avenues of relief, or combinations of them. The reports have been coming in at headquarters, and practically a 100 per cent response is expected in time for the meeting. Robert R. Livingston is chairman of the committee. DAY TO THIRD-DIMENSION Third dimension films as a boxoffice stimulant have caught the imagination of TOA members to such a degree that the entire second day of the board meeting will be devoted to their study. The board will attend a showing of Cinerama, which gives some of the effect of third dimension that night, and attempts are being made to obtain a print of "Bwana Devil." which calls for the use of two projectors and Polaroid spectacles, for showing during the day. Pat McGee, co-chairman of the COMPO tax repeal committee, will report on the progress to date and future strategy, and caixy suggestions and new offers of assistance back to COMPO, through which the industry-wide effort functions. McGee has recently reported gratifying cooperation on the part of all exhibitors, regardless of affiliation. Alfred Starr, Arbitration Discussions On New Year Sidetrack NEW YORK—Chances for any further discussions of ai'bitration before the Allied directors' meeting in New Orleans January 11 are slim. Something might happen between that date and the Theatre Owners of America board meeting scheduled for New York January 25-27, but nothing definite was in sight during the week. What stand, if any, Allied leaders may take at New Orleans could have some bearing on the next moves. TOA president, has reported strong TOA regional support. "Theatre television will occupy an important place on the agenda similar to that during the national convention when Robert H. O'Brien, secretary-treasurer of United Paramount Theatres, told how installations had increased within a year, how demonstrations have held out the promise of color television in theatres in the near future, and how National Exhibitors Theatre Television Committee is cooperating with the Motion Picture Ass'n of America in an appeal to the Federal Communications Commission for special theatre TV channels. Leon Levenson will report on a proposal at the national convention that a quarterly report be issued on concessions. No definite action was taken on the proposal, but the board may reach a decision after hearing Fitzgerald. He has been checking with exhibitors and presidents of candy, beverage, ice cream, popcorn and equipment companies. The board will take up the matter of a recommendation to manufacturers that packages be made so that the contents will be visable, and that retail price markings be eliminated. Jack Braunagel is expected to report on drive-in theatres. Present plans do not call for any extended discussion of public relations, state and local legislation, research, theatre equipment and accessories and codes and ordinances, because of the already crowded agenda. Charles Skouras is chairman of the board. Others besides those already mentioned who are scheduled to attend are S. H. Fabian, Alfred M. Pickus, E. D. Martin, John Rowley, Roy Cooper, Myron Blank, Mitchell Wolfson, M. A. Lightman sr.. Mack Jackson, Sam B. Ku-by, William Ruffin jr., Sherrill C. Corwin, Charles R. Gilmour, Sidney Lust, Nat Williams, George Kerasotes, C. E. Cook, Guthrie F. Crowe, Tom Bloomer, Howard Kennedy, Walter Reade jr., Marlin Butler, Harry Lamont, Merritt A. Kyser, H. P. Kincey, George Eric Johnston, president of the Motion Picture Ass'n, who had talks with both distributor and exhibitor leaders following his recent return from South America, went to Spokane for the Christmas holidays and scheduled his return for Monday (5). He is due in Honolulu January 8 for a talk before the Chamber of Commerce there. Wilbur Snaper, Allied president, attended the informal arbitration talks in Johnston's office recently and is expected to report at the New Orleans meeting. Nine of the 22 regional TOA units have endorsed arbitration and have authorized the board of directors to go ahead on further negotiations. There has been no opposition and the board is ready to resume. D. Carpenter, Morris Loewenstein, Lewen Pizor, Edward M. Fay, Walter L. Morris, Henry Reeve. Morton G. Thalhimer, B. H. Palmer and Mrs. Elizabeth M. Pugh. Order Jackson Park, Towne To Bid for Product CHICAGO—Tile circuit court of appeals reversed lower court decisions December 23, and ruled that the Jackson Park Theatre, Chicago, and the Towne Theatre, Milwaukee, both successful in previous antitrust litagation, are not entitled to. preferred playing time and automatic flat rentals, but must bid against competing theatres for product, where bidding is involved. Thomas McConnell, counsel for Towne Theatre, stated that he would carry the case to the Supreme Court. Under the Jackson Park decree, distributors here have been licensing product to the theatre on flat rentals, even where competing houses sought the same pictures and were willing to bid for product. A similar situation obtained in Milwaukee, as a result of the Towne's successful antitrust action, was heard in the federal district court here. Appeal of the Jackson Park case was brought by Loew's, while the Towne action was appealed by eight major film companies and Milwaukee exhibitors. Appeals were merged by agreement of attorneys and the court as the cases involved the same principals. Judges Kerner, Major and Finnegan concurred in the opinion, although Judge Kerner, who died last week, had not signed the opinion before his death. Jackson Park case heard in the district court by Federal Judge Michael Igoe, was instituted when James Coston, head of Coston circuit, purchased three Warner houses and sought to bid against the Jackson Park for MGM pictures. Judge Igoe ruled the Jackson Park was entitled to first opportunity on a flat rental basis, and Loew's appealed. BOXOFFICE January 3, 1953