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Boxoffice-January.17.1953

THREAT OF SENATE INQUIRY

THREAT OF SENATE INQUIRY INTO UPT-ABC TYPE MERGER Senator Tobey Questions Legality; May Call for Outlawing Legislation WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice has asked that "appropriate attention" be given to certain antitrust factors in the proposed merger of United Paramount Theatres and American Broadcasting Corp. and Sen. Charles W. Tobey (R., N.H.) has sent another of his telegrams about the case. HEARING IN TWO WEEKS Tobey's second wire, the contents of which became known on Monday (12 1, followed by one day a Federal Communications Commission meeting at which it was learned that the FCC voted to approve the merger with only Commissioner Frieda Hennock dissenting and asking for "a couple of weeks" in which to write her dissent. The voting was almost as unanimous on other issues, it was reported, with a 5-2 split on some phases. Tobey's wire, in which reference was made erroneously to an ABC-Paramount Pictures merger, read in part. "The Senate Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce will hold a hearing sometime in the next two weeks to determine whether or not the proposed UPT- ABC merger is legal and whether or not in the public interest and whether it would be helpful to prepare and pass legislation to prevent mergers of this kind in the future." A letter to Paul A. Walker, FCC chairman, from Attorney General James McGranery was also made public on Monday (12), along with the FCC reply which, in effect, told the Justice Department it had missed the boat completely on the ABC-XJPT case. McGranery emphasized that the Justice Department was not making actual recommendations to a verdict, but said some of the factors that should be considered included whether approval of the merger might "encourage a general integration of the motion picture exhibition industry with the radio and telecasting industries" which could well lead to "serious competitive problems" as a result of "the control of such important segments of the visual entertainment field by a few dominant companies." RAISES EXHIBITION POINT McGranery raised the question of whether film exhibition interested "placed in a position to do so" might not protect their theatre investments from TV competition by hampering the development of televi-sion, and in any case, he said, "the incentive to improvement that comes from active competition will inevitably be lost under common control." The attorney general indicated that if the UPT-ABC merger were to be approved others of like nature might follow and the development of the television industry might be "subordinated to the interests of the motion picture industry." Merging of exhibitor and TV interests, he continued, "would impede the entry of new business enterprises into any phase of these industries" and the merged company would have advantages in bidding for attractions UAs Gross for 1952 Up by 50 Per Cent NEW YORK—The United Artists world gross for 1952 was $30,000,000. an increase of 50 per cent over the $20,000,000 for 1951, according to Arthur B. Krim, president, in his "progress report" to the tradepress Thursday (15). The increase in profits will be at a lesser rate, mainly because of higher costs, increase in selling manpower and the fact that the company still took on costs of write-offs before the current executive group came into UA, Krim said. The company has made "substantial progress" on three points in 1952, according to Krim: (1> At least four UA releases, "High Noon," "The African Queen," "Limelight" and "Breaking the Sound Barrier," were on practically every "best ten" list and UA won three out of the five awai'ds given by the not available to a firm without such connections. Walker's reply did not point to the fact that the counsel for the FCC's own broadcast bureau, Frederick Ford, had devoted many pages of his "proposed findings" and at least half an hour of his oral arguments to development of exactly the same arguments. He did remind McGranery that the D of J had been kept advised of all proceedings in the case and had nevertheless informed FCC that it was not in a position to take any formal part in the case. That was on December 29. 1951. and since then the Department has never requested intervention or participation of any kind. Victory for the Majors In Dallas Trust Suit DALLAS—A directed verdict for the majors and the Interstate circuit in the five-year-old antitrust suit brought by Tivoli Realty Co. and I. B. Adelman. owners of the Delman Theatre here, was returned in federal court here this week. Judge William H. Atwell of federal district court instructed the jury to bring in such a verdict after less than three days of testimony. He said the plaintiffs failed to prove conspiracy to deprive the Delman of the run and product it wanted. Judge Atwell held that when the distributors decided that the competing Village Theatre was the outstanding theatre in North Dallas and could provide the most profitable run they were acting independently and in the exercise of their separate business judgments. They had the legal right, he said, to select the customers to whom they wished to license their product. Loew's, RKO Radio, Paramount and 20th Century-Fox had offered product to the Delman on a competitive bidding basis. New York film critics: (2) The directorial talent which gravitated to the independent field for UA release included Anatole Litvak, Otto Preminger, John Huston, Lewis Milestone, Mark Robson and Carol Reed: and (3) UA had two "block-busters," "High Noon" and "The African Queen," which were among the eight biggest grossers of 1952. "Noon" had $2,500,000 in sales in 18 weeks, the fastest liquidation in UA history. The company has eight pictures for 1953 which are potential biggest grossers for the year. Krim also said UA has set the 36 features for 1953 and is now finalizing plans for 1954 production. Krim is awaiting the results of current negotiations for "Bwana Devil," Arch Oboler's natural-vision feature, which UA will probably buy outright for world distribution. Lippert Will Release 12 January Through May CHICAGO—Twelve releases, all completed and either awaiting release or in various editing stages, will constitute Lippert Pictures' distribution program for the first five months of 1953. franchise holders were informed by President Robert L. Lippert at a two-day meeting here Saturday and Sunday (10. 11). Following the parleys. Lippert proceeded to New York with Arthur Greenblatt. general sales manager, for a week of huddles before returning to his headquarters in Hollywood. Heading the lineup of new product are "The Tall Texan." starring Lloyd Bridges. Lee J. Cobb, Marie Windsor and Luther Adler, and "I'll Get You," with George Raft and Sally Gray. Two science-fiction entries are "Spaceways," toplining Howard Duff, and "Project X." A1.SO available will be "Bad Blonde," starring Barbara Payton: "Bachelor in Paris," with Dennis Price; "Park Plaza 605." starring Tom Conway: "Chu Chin Chow." a musical: two Romulus productions. •Twilight Women" and "The Little Big Shot," and a feature-length cartoon in Technicolor. "Johnny, the Giant Killer." Williams Leaves Fox For Television Post NEW YORK—Phil A. Williams has resigned his sales post with 20th Century-Fox to enter the television field. For the past year he has been sales manager of the 20th-Fox television productions and assistant to the short subjects sales manager. Prior to joining Fox. Williams was sales manager for the March of Time and served in various capacities with the Time. Inc., organization since 1937. He will announce his new connection next week. 16 BOXOFnCE January 17, 1953

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