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Boxoffice-January.24.1953

'Technical Developments

'Technical Developments A Big Industry Boost' NEW YORK—Whole new vistas are opening up in motion picture entertainment that confound the prophets of disaster, Eric Johnston, president of the Motion Picture Ass'n of America, told a community relations conference sponsored by the MPAA Thursday (22 1. He spoke to representatives of film councils throughout the U.S. on "The Shape of Things to Come." "The statisticians have measured almost everything about us except the heart, the ingenuity and the spirit that have always made the industry the great explorer of new fields," Johnston said. "Trom the first it has been dynamic and expanding, flexible and adaptable to the entertainment needs of all the people." STILL 50 MILLION A WEEK Johnston said that of course business isn't up to the boom days of the war and early postwar days, but that 50,000,000 persons still visit the theatres each week, so it isn't down to "bust level." He cited technological developments such as color, sound, lighting innovations and theatre television and. more lately, third-dimension pictures, "the newest prospect to excite the imagination," as showing that the industry is keeping in step with the electronic age. Johnston asked the film council representatives for continued support in the drive against censorship. "Complete victory over political censorship is not yet clearly in sight," he said, "although we've come a long way toward our goal. We'll have to fight and .scrape every inch of the way from now on before censorship is really routed from our land and full freedom of the screen is firmly protected under our Constitution. Those who would stifle freedom don't give up easily. "But neither do we. We've won some important skirmishes. The Supreme Court, in notable recent decisions, has said that the screen is entitled to the same Constitutional guarantees of freedom as the pre-ss. And I believe you are familiar with the decision in Toledo, Ohio, where Judge Frank Wiley ruled that newsreel censorship violates the Constitutions of the state and of the U.S. These are great milestones in the march toward freedom of the screen." AS DEMOCRACY AMBASSADORS Johnston described the job that U.S. films are doing overseas as ambassadors of democracy. He said that while they are combatting Communist propaganda, they aren't intended as propaganda themselves. "Hollywood is in the entertainment business," he said, "and that's why our films are loved and believed by people abroad and it's why American pictures can whip and outdraw Communist propaganda films in any world oattle for the public's support. While they are made to entertain, they also reflect the spirit of a free country and in doing so they carry important social and ideological byproducts. "By any standard. Hollywood's ambassadorial record is extraordinarily good. What encourages and cheers us so much is that this Film Councils—Exhibitors Ties Need Be Stronger NEW YORK—Exhibitors showing worthwhile pictures should receive increased cooperation from film council representatives throughout the U.S.. Hulda McGinn, director of legislation and public relations of the California Theatres Ass'n, told the opening se.ssion Monday (20) of a three-day national conference of film council delegates at the Gotham hotel. She pioneered in the establishment of councils in California. Mrs. McGinn said the support was necessary to encourage a continuing flow of good pictures. She said they are playing a vital role not only in the field of morale but also in that of information and education. She praised the industry for welcoming constructive criticism and said that other industries .should follow its example of inviting public appraisal of product. is the overwhelming verdict of people everywhere." Johnston spoke of a few critics who "baste us and lambaste us," but said they took "the snob's-eye view" that art to be good must be a monopoly of the few, and that they put the motion pictures low on their art list. He told how pictures have recorded for all time great historic events. He said that an industry with such a remarkable record of accomplishment and of service is "just at the threshold of a greater tomorrow." Children's Film Library Nee(is Bolstering NEW YORK—The children's film library which supplies films for children's matinees and educational purposes through the exchanges is facing a crisis, Mrs. Marjorie Dawson, associate director of the community relations department of the Motion Picture Ass'n of America, told a national conference of film council representatives. Prom a listing of 65 films, the total has dropped to only 31 and even that total is •threatened through the replacement by major companies of nitrate film with acetate, or safety, film. She said the companies are hesitating making film library replacements because of the heavy cost involved, but that new representations will be made. Film council plans in most areas call for weekly Saturday morning matinees at theatres. Each exchange has been allocated at least one print of a selected film for the purpose. The delegates expressed concern over the situation. Several of them told of succe-ssful cooperation with exhibitors in having special films with educational value shown after weekday school hours as well a.s Saturdays. One instance cited was New Rochelle, N. Y., where the children buy a book of four tickets for SI. During a recent showing of "Kim" 1,600 attended despite a heavy rain. Good Films Restoring Confidence: Rhoden NEW YORK—Public relations of the motion picture industry is being rapidly restored through the improved quality of pictures, a clean bill of health on the Communist question and tours by famous picture personalities, according to Elmer C. Rhoden, chairman of the public relations committee of Theatre Owners of America and president of Fox Midwest Theatres, speaking at the first evening session of the Motion Picture A.ss'n of America community relations conference at the Gotham hotel January 20. IN CONTRAST TO 18 MONTHS AGO This restored "public confidence and re- .spect" is in contrast to 18 months ago when "our industry was at the lowest depths in public confidence due to the House Un- American Activities Committee's investigation in Hollywood." he said. "At about the same time, millions of television sets were going into the homes showing motion pictures free and one company even attempted to take over our industry through subscription television," he pointed out. "Now, today, 18 months later, what do we fmd? We find a clean bill of health on the Communist que.stion, thanks to the Motion Picture Industry Council, headed by Art Arthur in Hollywood and the producer-members of that organization, who at the cost of over one million dollars were able to wipe out the Red infiltration in our industry," Rhoden said. As to the challenge of television, Rhoden found that its competitive impact was shortlived. "Good motion pictures today gross more than at any time in the history of our industry and, as television is developed, it will serve as the greatest adjunct to our industry that has yet been devised." The improved quality of motion pictures is so pronounced, according to Rhoden, that gross receipts over the holiday season all over the country established new records. The Wall Street Journal reported an 11 per cent increase in gross receipts for the month of December over the same month of 1951, Rhoden pointed out. Amu.sement securities have shown a decided improvement in the last 30 days, he said. AT THRESHOLD OF NEW ERA "So with the improved quality of our entertainment, and with public confidence again restored, with the advance of technological developments in depth pictures, it looks as if the motion picture industry stands on the threshold of a new era," Rhoden .said. Regarding Rhoden's "pet subject." Children's Vacation Matinees, he told of the responsibility of the theatreman to see that millions of children are provided with wholesome motion pictures. He discus.sed in detail a brochure giving in detail how men and women interested in the welfare of children, with the cooperation of their local theatreman. can do a great job in this respect. The brochure gives the Hutchinson. Kas., plan, which has also been successful in other cities. In Hutchinson, they sold over 2,000 season tickets and the average attendance for the 12 weeks was 2,195 children, or 26,340 admissions for the 12 weeks. Rhoden plans to submit this plan to the directors of the public relations committee of TOA next week for adoption. 18 BOXOmCE January 24, 1953

: — Despite Loss of Funds, Oscars Will Continue HOLLYWOOD— After taking an eightcount when four major companies withdrew their financial support from the upcoming annual Awards presentation event, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, while "deploring" the action, was apparently weathering the crisis and in a formal statement by its board of governors assured that the 25th annual Oscar sweepstakes will be staged as scheduled on March 19. A measure of encouragement was contained in the disclosure that Republic which, along with Warners. Columbia and Universal-International, had been originally reported as backing away from the Awards ceremonies—announced via statement by President Herbert J. Yates that the company will contribute "its same share" this year as it has in previous seasons. Yates opined that the Academy has done a "constructive job" of building prestige for Hollywood and the film industry "with millions of i>eople all over the world." RKO POSITION NOT REVEALED Warners, Columbia and U-I were, however, apparently continuing to stand pat, leaving Republic, Paramount. MGM and 20th Century-Fox to carry the financial load. The position of RKO Radio has not been made known. Currently the Academy is exposing ways and means of securing the nece.ssary additional financing to stage the Oscar presentations on a de luxe basis, although previously announced plans for holding the event at the RKO Pantages Theatre in Hollywood are apparently up in the air. Spokesmen said the needed revenue may be derived from several sources 1. Commercial sponsorship of the network radio coverage of the affair, to be handled by the American Broadcasting Co. 2. A closed-circuit theatre-TV hookup, which has been solicited by Theatre Network Television and submitted to the Motion Picture Ass'n of America for consideration. Such a telecast would involve granting of clearances by the major studios for their contract stars to make the video appearances. CHANGE OF PLACE PROPOSED 3. A proposal by Al Galston, southland exhibitor and partner of Jay Sutton, that their Hawaii Theatre on Hollywood Blvd. be utilized for the screening of previous Oscar-winning pictures over a period of a week or more prior to the Awards presentations, with the Academy to share in the revenue derived therefrom. This would be climaxed by a grand ball at the adjoining Florentine Gardens, and Oscars would be distributed from the Hawaii Theatre stage. Continuation of the Oscar event on the lush scale that has characterized it in the past was backed by the Screen Writer? Guild, which offered its cooperation in every way possible. Help in the March of Dimes drive. Use some method for audience participation to roise funds. Columbia Sets Million On 'Salome Campaign Columbia Pictures home office executives and key personnel who attended the meeting in Chicago to discuss sales and advertising on the Rita Ha.vworth Technicolor production. Seated, left to right: Rube Jackter, assistant general sales manager; Jack Cohn, executive vice-president; A. Montague, vice-president and general sales manager; Paul Lazarus jr., New York studio representative. Standing, left to right: Louis Astor, George Josephs and Irving Wormser, home office sales executives; Joseph Freiberg, manager of sales accounting department; George Berman, assistant manager of e.vchange operations; H. C". Kaufman, manager of exchange operations; Howard LeSieur, director of advertising, publicity and exploitation; Maurice Grad, short subjects sales manager, and Louis Weinberg, home office sales executive. NEW YORK—Columbia has plans for a $1,000,000 advertising campaign on "Salome" to run for two months before the prerelease engagements starting February 6 and continuing through the Easter season when the prerelease engagements will start. A general release policy will be announced following these. Plans for the campaign were announced Saturday (17) to an international sales convention held in Chicago by Paul N. Lazarus jr., home office executive. There will be full color ads in five national magazines, 15 film fan magazines, three Sunday supplements that are delivered with 57 Sunday newspapers. Full color breaks appeared in the Sunday News Sunday (18) in 23 newspapers and in the American Weekly in 23 newspapers. The January 27 issue of Look will feature Rita Hayworth on the cover and in a two-page spread with seven stills. Other layouts are already set. As a part of the promotion Columbia will sponsor a nationwide bathing beauty contest, with the winner getting two weeks in Hollywood, a .screen test and a one-year modeling contract with Flexees Bathing Suit Co. Decca Records will distribute a "Salome" album. The TV program, "Chance of a Lifetime," Ls plugging the picture for 13 weeks. There will be a cooperative newspaper advertising campaign in every state. In a statement on the sales policy the company states: "We are fully aware that it is, by law, neither our right nor our function to fix admission prices. That prerogative belongs solely to the exhibitor. Our sales organization has received firm and explicit instructions to this effect. "However, we also recognize the fact that, in the recent past, pictures of similar scope and stature have done extremely well in situations where the exhibitor has voluntarily presented these super-attractions at increased prices. We believe that 'Salome' offers the exhibitor the same opportunity. "In order to prove the power of 'Salome' to the great mass of exhibitors prior to the general release of the picture, we shall Umit the prerelease engagements to qualified theatres in cities of 75.000 population or more, which shall be .selected competitively based on their offers. 'Salome' will be available for screening at all Columbia exchanges on or about February 1. Immediately thereafter, we shall welcome, from qualified situations, offers which, for proper evaluation, should include: "1. Theatre's name and exhibitor's name. "2. Minimum dollar guarantee to Columbia. "3. Terms (We desire a first week participation of 50 per cent minimum. Percentages for subsequent weeks should also be specified). "4. Minimum length of run guarantee. "5. Control figures to determine holdovers beyond the guaranteed minimum run. "6. Amount exhibitor proposes to contribute to advertising campaign for advance and first week and for subsequent weeks of guaranteed run. "7. Such other information as the exhibitor may consider important in helping us to evaluate his offer more carefully." The statement adds: "Offers are to be made subject to the following conditions: "1. Our right to reject aU offers is reserved. "2. The run granted wiU be definitely established, no specific clearance will be granted." BOxorncE January 24, 1953 19