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Boxoffice-January.10.1953

SEVEN TAX REPEALS BILLS

SEVEN TAX REPEALS BILLS FILED AS THE NEW CONGRESS OPENS All Seven oeven Call oaii for lor Total loiai i^ i . i ^ Elimination of Federal Admissions Levy WASHINGTON—The opening days of the 83rd Congress gave evidence of considerable sympathy among members of the House of Representatives for repeal of the federal admissions tax on film theatres. Altogether seven bills to accomplish this purpose were introduced on opening day, Saturday (3), and more were expected to be tossed into the hopper shortly. All seven would completely eliminate the excise impost on motion picture theatre admissions. The first was introduced by Rep. John D. Dingell (D.. Mich.), a member of the House ways and means committee, which considers all revenue legislation and who, only a short time earlier, had announced his measure would reduce the tax to 10 per cent and place an exemption on all tickets below 60 cents. SPONSOR OTHER SIX BILLS The other six were sponsored by Rep. Noah Mason (R.. 111.), also a member of the taxwritiiig ways and means group; Rep. Victor Wickersham (D. Okla.i; Rep. Hale Baggs (D., La.) : Rep. O. C. Fisher (D., Tex.) ; Rep. James Prazier jr. (D.. Tenn.). and Rep. Harold Hagen iR..Minn.). In explaining his change to a measure calling for full repeal, Dingell declared that film theatres need "desperately the relief from this regre.ssive, oppressive and discriminatory tax which has severely impaired the solvency . . . of so many theatres. The closing of these theatres has marred countless neighborhoods and prominent uptown districts with inactivity." The theatre, said Dingell, "has borne the brunt of competition more than any form of amusement." particularly from television and, he pointed out, it is dependent upon a large volume of regular and low-priced attendance. Closed film houses, he added, impair the life and business of the community. Dingell pleaded an all-out effort to "obtain a hearing before my committee on ways and means at the earliest possible date in order to bring about total relief to a long suffering industry." CITES OKLAHOMA PROBLEMS Wickersham said that a number of small exhibitors in his Oklahoma district had been practically forced into bankruptcy as a re.sult of the tax. Meanwhile. Rep. Robert W. Kean (R., N. J.), a high-ranking member of the ways and means committee, issued a statement concerning the "inroads" television has made on New Jersey theatre attendance, as shown to him by a group of Essex county exhibitors urging repeal of the tax. The report given to Kean by George Gold, chairman of the Federation of New Jersey Theatres, to show the "problems and serious plight of the operators of motion picture theatres in New Jersey," cited as examples the Hawthorne Theatre in Newark and the Cameo Theatre in South Orange. i. |^| TeChniCOlOr StUQieS PlaHS For Foreign Expansion By FRANK LEYENDECKER NEW YORK—With more and more of the total number of Hollywood productions being made in Technicolor, necessitating an expansion program for the Technicolor. Inc., laboratories there. Dr. Herbert T. K a I m u s. president and general manager, is now studying prospects for expansion abroad. "I»i'essure is being put on Technicolor to establish centers in France. Italy and Germany, similar to that Herbert T. Kalmns in England," Kalmus said on his return from a trip to England and the European continent. "Centers in the European capitals, .such as Paris. Rome and Berlin, would have a number of advantages for the European motion picture industry. They would make possible more prompt service and reduce costs." according to Dr. Kalmus. "As it is now. cameras and crews to operate them have to be brought in from Hollywood or from England. Rush prints would be available at the end of each day's work, instead of after appreciable delay. Financial exchange problems would be minimized and payments of duty would be eliminated and. of course, employment opportunity would be afforded citizens of the country," Dr. Kalmus said. Among the features in Technicolor recently made in Europe for release in 1953 are; "Moulin Rouge," produced in Paris and London by John Huston with Jose Ferrer starred, which United Artists will release; "Melba," produced by S. P. Eagle in London, also for UA release; "Sea Devils." produced in England and the Continent by David E. Rose for RKO release; "Invitation to the Dance." produced by MGM in London and the Continent; "Monsoon." produced in India for UA release; "The Master of Ballantrae." produced by Errol Flynn in England and the Continent for Warner Bros.; "The Sword and the Rose." produced in live-action by Walt Disney for RKO release; "Laughing Ann," now in production in England for Republic release, and "Affair in Monte Carlo," produced in England and the Continent by Associated British for Allied Artists release. In addition, "Return to Paradise," starring Gary Cooper, was recently completed by Aspen Productions in the South Seas for United Artists release, and "His Majesty O'Keefe," was also produced in the South Seas by Burt Lancaster's Norma Productions for Warner Bros, release. "Decameron Nights," which was produced in Spain by Film Locations, Ltd., with Joan Fontaine starred, and "The Golden Coach." recently completed in Italy with Anna Magnani starred, have not been set for U. S. release. "The Life of Puccini" was recently completed in Rome for Columbia Pictures release and Alan Ladd is now filming "The White South" in the Antarctic for Columbia after completing "The Red Beret" in England for the same company. MGM is now completing "Mogambo." starring Clark Gable and Ava Gardner, in Africa. In the near future. Paramount is sending Dana Andrews and Vivian Leigh to India to film "Elephant Walk"; MGM is sending Cornel Wilde and Mel Ferrer to French Morocco to make "Saadia" and the same company will send Stewart Granger. Robert Taylor and Elizabeth Taylor to Jamaica. B. W. I., to film "All the Brothers Were Valiant." "In this connection, the demand for color by Technicolor is so great that it is logical for us to expand, and the question is whether we should enlarge our facilities in England and the United States or establish foreign centers," Dr. Kalmus said. "Actually, we probably shall do both. Negotiations for a plant in France are farthest along at the present time. But I am not in a position to announce anything definite now." Truman Budget Estimates $320,000,000 in Ticket Taxes WASHINGTON—Federal receipts from admissions tax collections in the year beginning next July 1, fiscal 1954. will drop to $310,000,- 000 from the $320,000,000 estimated to have been collected from these .sources in fiscal 1953. ending June 30. according to the President's budget to Congress on Friday (9). The president's budget has not. however, been accurate on previous forecasts respecting admissions tax receipts. Last year's budget estimated receipts in the current fiscal year. 1953. at $366,000,000 and in fiscal 1952 at $357,000,000. The new budget finds 1952 actual receipts were $330,782,072. and has now dropped estimates of 1953 to the $320.- 000.000 figure. The new budget calls for appropriations of $114,515,800 for the international information and educational activities of the State Department, compared with estimated expenditures in the current fiscal year of $95.- 860.722. The Voice of America would be raised to $28,328,000 from $21,616,300 in the current fiscal year and the department's overseas film program would be jumped to $10,319,000 from $7,205,800. 8 BOXOFTICE January 10, 1953

A Report on World Markets by the 20tb-Fox President: SKOURAS SEES A VAST GROWTH OF INDUSTRY ON WORLD SCALE At Testimonial Dinner, He Reports on Recent Tour of Continents NEW YORK—Spyros P. Skouras sees the motion picture industry on the threshold of a vast new development on a world scale. World leadership has been thrust on the United States, he says, and films as the greatest media of communication between people are to help shape the destinies of men and nations. The 20th Century-Fox president outlined his experiences on a 25,000-mile world tour from which he ha; just returned to a group of 115 film executives who attended a dinner in his honor at the Metropolitan club. New York, Wednesday (7), and had them fascinated by the word pictures he painted. CALLED MASTER SALESMANSHIP S. H. Fabian described the achievements of Skouras's tour as "master showmanship and master salesmanship" that by increaiing the distribution scope and income of the industry can make even better pictures possible. Skouras diverged from his manuscript from time to time and displayed an unaccustomed eloquence. In discussing the industry's responsibility, he said: "As grateful as I am for being an American citizen. I am equally and profoundly grateful that I am associated with the American motion picture industry, and all that it means to the welfare of mankind with its power to influence the minds and hearts of men in the name of freedom and peace." He advocated the building of more theatres in India, Indonesia, Malaya and Japan. As he had done in a press interview following his return from abroad, he urged that all types of pictures be sent abroad, not simply those that show the best side of American life. WANTS NO CENSORSHIP "In spite of many criticisms of many wellmeaning people that we must only send films that show our best qualities," he asserted with feeling, "the people in all the countries visited were frank in praising and respecting our courage in producing so many films where we censure the faults and weaknesses of our system. "This has tremendous impact, and with apparent frankness these people accept this as another proof of the honest and democratic American spirit, in sharp contrast to the Soviet technique of claiming everything good is of Russian origin." Skouras referred again and again to the friendly welcomes he received, to the universal friendliness of the peoples of Asia for the United States and the need for cultivating this friendship. In Japan, he said. Democracy is now fashionable. American pictures have stimulated business, and the Japanese film industry is now one of the most prosperous in the world with pictures costing about $75,000 and grossing about $180,000. There are three large circuits and almost BOXOFFICE :: January 10, 1953 SPYROS P. SKOURAS Sees World Influence of U.S. Films 3,000 theatres in Japan, some new, and many more planned as materials become available. The Japanese do not favor restrictions on film imports and this is a great potential market, he declared. Curiously enough, he said, English is spoken everywhere and is taught in schools, English also is widely spoken in the Philippines, and since the war a production industry has developed. Now about 80 pictures are produced each year. First run theatres open at 8 in the morning and stay open until midnight. He described Hong Kong as within "shouting distance" of the "slave world" and a hotbed of cloak and dagger activity. was He expressed the opinion that the city a "strategic capital for expanding the influence of motion pictures." The cordiality of the people impressed him in Bangkok. Yet, with a million people, there are practically no modern theatres, with even the first runs out of date and in poor condition. He said he had preached more theatres to all who would listen. Indonetia may become the "United States of Asia," Skouras said. "It is the wealthiest of all the Asiatic countries with a population of more than 80 million, imbued with the vigor and ambition of one of the world's youngest independent nations." Censorship is terrific, however. "They do not understand the nature of the world's struggle between the two main conflicting philosophies of life—the western philosophy which wants the world to be free and the individual supreme—which is known as American throughout all these far eastern nations—and the Communist philosophy, which is attempting to batter down the free nations of the world and enslave the individual." Australia, he said, "was one of the highlights of his Odyssey." The fact that it has an area larger than the United states and a population of only eight million amid tremendous resources impressed Skouras with its importance as a future market. The people are so friendly with the United States, he said, that in a future emergency they would fight with it again. FILMS MAIN ENTERTAINMENT Motion pictures are the main entertainment, both in Australia and New Zealand. The people of Singapore and Malaya are movie fans, he said. At this point Skouras impressed his audience by saying that he flew from Singapore to Calcutta—2,000 miles—in four hours and a half in a British Comet jet. India, he said, has the second largest picture production in the world—more than 300 pictures annually. He regretted, however, that there are only 3,000 theatres to serve 500 million people, and American films are exhibited regularly in only about 700 theatres. He had many conferences with the press and government officials and pointed out the need for more theatres to help the people to overcome their sociological problems, and to help the industry at the same time. "These people love America," he said, and can be brought more and more to understand the blessings of our system. "It is obvious that India, with the teeming and dissatisfied millions, is a crucial battleground in the ideological struggle between totalitarianism and democracy. We must recognize that." All these countries are a "real challenge." he declared. "This is an area where our industry truly can pioneer not only for its own profit, but for the benefit of the people. "We have an opportunity here to improve our income and offset substantially the decline of our domestic revenue. We can inspire exhibitors to build modern theatres and by .so doing help increase motion picture attendance many times its present level. MUST EMULATE OTHERS "We should emulate the missionary work which is done here by many other American industries which are deriving fantastic profits from these vastly wealthy countries, and, at the same time, introducing free American customs and products." He described Italy as in "high spirits." Exhibitors have more than 4,000 new theatres. In France, not a single theatre has been built since the war. He was optimistic about Eidophor. "We are incorporating in that system of large screen television with color, improvements whereby the operator can turn a simple switch in order to operate it. It will be ready within a few months. "After further tests, we will start production, and hope within a year we will sell many sets." To Resume Small Business Probe WASHINGTON—New Senate Small Business subcommittee chairmen Sen. Charles W. Tobey (R., N.H.) told reporters on Friday (2) that he would continue that group's investigations of workings of the consent decree in the film industry.