Boxoffice (Jul-Sep 1939)

Record Details:

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CLEARANCE BOARDS MADE DP OF THEATREMEN IN TOTO IS LATEST PLAN OF DISTRIBUTORS Deny Clearance Is Contentious Point New York — That protection, or clearance, has come to be, and is, a contentious practice in the industry is categorically denied by all distributors responding to the government’s charges in the all-industry suit. According to Paramount’s answer, clearance and zoning, and how they came about, get this explanation; “That the introduction of feature pictures brought about important changes in the marketing of films; that, therefore, films were generally sold for a daily program; that some theatres in the same city might show the same picture on the first day of its release, or day-and-date as this practice has come to be called; that with the appearance of feature pictures many theatres were willing and able to pay higher rentals for the right of exclusive exhibition before the pictures were made available to others on subsequent runs; that, as a result, first runs acquired by contract protection over second and subsequent runs; that this protection is sometimes called ‘clearance,’ denoting the period of time which it is agreed shall elapse between a prior and subsequent showing of a picture; that a ‘zone’ indicates a determined geographical area within which the agreed contractual period of clearance IS operative; that clearance has come to be, and is, one of the most important terms in the licensing of motion pictures between the exhibitor and distributor and has come to be recognized by exhibitor and distributor alike as essential to protect the interests of both of them in the licensing of motion pictures for exhibition.’’ Loew’s states that “the period between a prior and subsequent showing of a picture in a given area or zone is termed clearance, and that a zone is a specified geographical area within which a particular clearance is operative.” "Grapes of Wrath" Theme To Stick, Says Wobber New York — Darryl F. Zanuck, 20th Century-Fox production chief, will make “Grapes of Wrath” with all the strength and realism contained in John Steinbeck’s epic novel. Authority for this statement is none other than Herman Wobber, general sales manager, who has recently returned from studio conferences with Zanuck over the forthcoming product lineup. He reports Zanuck is enthusiastic over the book as screen material. Despite protests, Wobber says, Zanuck will not compromise with the theme of the novel. “It should be one of the outstanding (Continued on page 13) To Forego Representation If Decisions Do Not Affect Revenue New York — Distributors are understood working on a new arbitration plan for clearance cases which would give them no voice at the hearings unless decisions handed down by the new type of boards adversely affects the revenue of the companies involved. The proposal follows protests from all independent exhibitor groups to the special board setup in the fourth trade draft. However, no objection is made to the arbitration boards hearing complaints by independent theatre owners against the same class of exhibitor. In the plan under advisement, it is stated distributors will not be represented on the boards which will be made up of independent exhibitor and affiliated circuit representatives. However, it is added, in the event an adverse ruling is handed down, distributors will have the right to file a claim and present their side of the case. All hearings will be open, as prevailed during the days of the Film Boards and NRA. Both complainant and respondent will have the right to select an arbitrator from the panels to be set up in each key territory. Efforts will be made to settle disputes before they reach the arbitration chambers, however. No exhibitor will be asked to waive rights under the code, William F. Rodgers, general sales manager for M-G-M and sub-committee chairman, insists. Selling heads of all companies have agreed to this, he adds, and any salesman who violates this understanding, when complaint is brought to the attention of the distributor, will meet with serious consequences. Distribution heads and a committee of legal aides met a few days ago with Rodgers for the first time since the fourth draft was sent out. The session was devoted to a full discussion of the arbitration changes and further thought is being given the proposals before made public. “There will be a fair trade practice code in this industry,” Rodgers emphasizes, “but no one at this time can tell how soon.” Most of the allegations in the government suit will be disposed of when the code becomes effective, distributors continue to believe. Redrafting of exhibition contracts to include certain provisions of the code now is occupying the attention of home office lawyers who have been assisting sales heads on the legal limitations of the drafts. Exhibitors may be asked to sign special code pledges in addition to regular product contracts, the pledges to contain provisions which cannot be inserted in license agreements because of anti-trust angles which might develop. Routine, Red Tape Schine Suit Snag Buffalo — Routine and red tape are reliably reported holding up the government’s anticipated monopoly suit against the Schine circuit in the federal district court here. It is learned that complaints against the independent circuit operators have come in from every territory in which they operate, including Kentucky and Indiana. Among the more prominent exhibitors who filed complaints with the department of justice are William Smalley of Cooperstown, a Schine rival of many years; Michael Boumansour of the Plaza, Malone, and V. U. Young, who operates in Indiana and Ohio. Young’s name has already been made public by the government. Boumansour has had his complaint in the hands of Hari’y G. Kosch, Allied of New York attorney, and attempts to straighten the trouble out with Schine and distributors apparently have got nowhere. Smalley was among the first to go to Washington with his grievance. All exhibitors mentioned have been contacted by FBI men. While in Syracuse recently. Max A. Cohen, head of New York Allied, stated Schine could do much to weaken the government’s action if he would invite a conference to talk all the things over. Cohen regards the Schines as “an independent trust,” but is willing to sit down with Meyer J. or Louis W. any time they are willing to chat around the table. If this were done, according to Cohen, Allied of New York would bend every effort to prevent pursuit of the suit which now looks imminent. West Coast Probers Hold Washington Coniabs Washington — Albert Law and Harold Collins, who have been on the coast for the past three years checking into FWC and major distributor records, are here conferring with department of justice officials on the data gathered in Los Angeles. The investigation is in connection with an alleged breach of a consent decree handed down in 1932. Seymour Krieger, who has been handling the eastern investigation of independent exhibitor complaints in connection with the government suit, may not be asked to go to the coast after all, it is indicated. Paul Williams, in charge of the government’s suit, may go instead. Williams returned Thursday from New York where he is reported to have conferred with Spyros and George Skouras on complaints against National Theatres’ units throughout the (Ccniinued on page 13) BOXOFFICE July 15, 1939 7