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Boxoffice-January.24.1953

• Getting LETTERS

• Getting LETTERS Makes Plea for Effective Motion Picture Public Relations To BOXOFFICE: If I were asked which industry in the United States maintained the worst public relations bureau. I would unhesitatingly name our own. Thus may come as a shocic to you, but I am going to prove my point: 1. Why is it that the general public has been convinced that the motion picture business is on the wane? Because we in the industry have failed to keep the public informed that, notwithstanding a drop in attendance because of economic conditions, there are, nevertheless, millions of people going to motion picture theatres every week. 2. Statistics issued by the commissioner of baseball show that the national pastime has suffered a 10 to 13 per cent drop in attendance and yet no one has the temerity to state that baseball is on its last legs. 3. The legitimate theatre has suffered a "letdown" in attendance, excepting for the very few top shows, and no one has sentenced it to a final doom. 4. Night clubs, amusement parks, etc., have also fallen into the diminishing revenue channel and yet no one has applied the last rites to them. 5. Almost every type of business is "off" in revenue expectation, such as clothing, groceries, etc., and yet they haven't been written off as "finished." 6. The automotive business is suffering likewise, excepting for the "war economy prosperity," which it is enjoying, and yet no one says that people are going to walk or sit home in their living rooms. back to our industry. "What seems to be wrong?" My answer is "bad public relations." For instance, we read of the divorces and messes in Hollywood, but they have th^ A Senator Eulogizes Late Joyce O'Hara WASHINGTON — Joyce O'Hara "was the kind of strong man which American industry can ill afford to lose." Senator Edwin C. Johnson (D., Colo.i said on Friday (16i in an eulogy to the late executive vice-president of the Motion Picture Ass'n. inserted in the Congressional Record. Johnson noted that during his service as a member and chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee he had conferred often with leaders of the film industry and found them without exception to be patriotic, conscientious and devoted Americans. "But the man who ranks first in my memory as outstanding in every respect was Joyce O'Hara," he said. Johnson emphasized "that he was an honest, upright and forthright man. He had another quality which so many who deal with public officials do not have—absolute sincerity and the courage to call a spade a spade. He never trimmed ..." same thing in TV. But do we in the industry tell the people that millions are still going to the movies? ... No! Instead wc have a Goldwyn yelling at the top of his voice that 50 per cent of the theati-es will close within five years and after the damage has been done he claims having been misquoted. You can start a run on any bank by misinformation. You can get 5,000 people to stare up into the sky by merely standing in Times Square and looking up at a bird and tjefore you know it a crowd has joined you. I honestly believe that, if we had good public relations instead of that which we have now. the public would not be joining the cry of th^ defeatists who after having enjoyed themselves because of the industry now wail and whine because they can't make a million on every picture. That goes for the exhibitor and distributor alike. EMPHASIZES CHARITABLE WORK Is the public really conscious of the fact that the motion picture industry engages in every charitable drive it is called upon to help? I am not speaking of the distributor executives who like to pose for pictures, but the "boys" in exhibition and distribution who really help do a job to put over polio. Red Cross, Salvation Army, cancer and many other drives. The Metropolitan Opera Co. gets the amusement tax removed: TV and radio permit people into their studios free of charge and there are no taxes, but the motion picture business is a horse of another color. No one pays any attention to us because, again I say, we have very bad public relations. Does the public actually know of the millions which have been paid in taxes— income, admissions and otherwise? Of course not. because no one has taken the trouble of letting it know about such an important item as that. The approach to motion picture public relations is bad to begin with. There i.s too much "personal glorification" demanded by the socalled "brains" of the industry, rather than "glorification of the industry." The exhibitor has become "lazy"—he has become a "Johnnie Ray" constantly "crying" —the only difference between them being that Ray gets paid for it, because he has to work for what he gets. TIME FOR SOME 'RESELLING' The distributor has adopted a new technique—with gro.sses down (and it affects them also) they still get a pencil and cannot seem to write anything but 40 per cent as the return he wants on a picture. There you have the case of a lazy exhibitor and a lazy distributor who cannot seem to get revitalized and move on from where they have been sitting for years. All we hear is TV is killing us! . . . Yet Cinerama is standing them on the streets! Why don't people .save that money and stay home and watch TV for nothing? Why don't they stay home and watch Martin and Lewis for free, instead of going to the theatres to see them? Why didn't people stay home for TV. instead of going to see "The Greatest Show on Earth." "David and Bathsheba," "Quo Vadis" and the like? In my opinion, the answer to it all insofar as the motion picture industry is concerned BEST ACTRESS AWARD — S h i r 1 e y Booth, star of Hal Wallis' Paramount production. "Come Back, Little Sheba," accepts from Leo Mishkin, motion picture editor of the New York Morning Telegraph and chairman of the New York Film Critics' Circle, the critics group's "Best Actress" award for her performance in "Sheba." The presentation took place at a special dinner at Sardi's restaurant in New York City. is there is no cooperation or unanimity of purpo.se and when that happens any business will suffer. I am not telling you anything new—it is obvious what is wrong. However, the time has come for the industry to "resell itself" to the pubUe. Recently Paul Gregory, producer of "Don Juan in Hell." proved that his show is going great guns at high prices. He also stated that people are staying away from movies, because they have been misled by the "high pressure boys" and, now, when the truth is told, it isn't beUeved. I would like to see a motion picture public information bureau established to do a real job—the right kind of a job—by being truthful, instead of sending out a lot of hokum about the bad things and forgetting to tell the public about the good things in our industry. I'll bet 50 p)er cent of the exhibitors reading this will say, "He's crazy," and all of the distri'outors will characterize me as a "rebel." Why? Because they cannot face the truth to find a cure which should not be too difficult. Center Theatre, Centreville. Md. JOHN D. FERNICOLA. Rose to Film 3 Abroad NEW YORK—David E. Rose, producer of "Sea Devils," Technicolor feature starring Yvonne DeCarlo, which RKO will distribute, will make three pictures abroad during 1953. Releasing deals will be completed on his return from England, where he recently returned to supervise cutting of 'Devils." The pictures are: "African Rifles' and an untitled original, both to be filmed in Africa, and "Lawrence of Arabia. " for which negotiations are in progress. 'World-Eater 'to UA NEW YORK—United Artists has acquired "The World-Eater." the fir.t film to be made by A-Men Productions, headed by Richard Carlson, Ivan Tors and Curt Siodmak. for release in the U.S.. according to Arthur B. Krim. president. Tors produced. Siodmak directed and Carlson is starred with Jean Byron and Harry EUerbe in featured roles. 24 BOXOFFICE :: January 24, 1953

over the country **Against All Flags" is taking its place ith U-I's to^gi^ssers of 1952 ::uiL i'j»4-.» ' jii»j:;'*-^!iiB^v i AGAINST ^JAGS EARL/ESr OPENINGS: Topped "Bend", "World", "Because of You" at Spreckles Theatre, San Diego . . . Bigger than "Bend" and "World", Astor Theatre, Reading, Pa.; DeAnza Theatre, Riverside, Calif.; Paramount Theatre, Waterloo, Iowa. Outgrossed "World" and "Because of You", Esquire, Tower, Del Paso Theatres, Sacramento. . . Playing to absolutely top grosses, Crawford Theatre, Wichita; Florida Theatre, Pensacolo; Broadway Theatre, Portland; Palace Theatre, Akron; Esquire Theatre, Stockton. BLOCK our PLENTY OF PLAYING TIME! OK BROTHERHOOD WEEK FEB. 15-22. COLOR ANTHONY QUINN . ALICE KELLEY-MILDRED NATWICK Directed by GEORGE SHERMAN • Screenplay by AENEAS MacKENZIE and JOSEPH HOFFMAN • Produced by HOWARD CHRISTIE A UNIVERSAL- INTERNATIONAL PICTURE