Cinema News and Property Gazette (1913)

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January i, 1913. THE CINEMA. THE CINEMA INDUSTRY IN 191 2. A REVIEW OF THE PAST YEAR. ^^^> \ business as well as in private life there arc fl I periods when it is well to hark back )^mm and take a peep into the past, and the close of a year is one of the occasions. Oftentimes these researches are not of the most pleasant kind, but in looking back over what has happened in regard to the industry with which The Cinema is interested, we are happy to think that the year 1912 has been one of unexampled prosperity in every section of the trade. The film-producer has devoted his energies to the turning out of subjects on a much higher plane than previously, and he has succeeded in raising the standard of the film to a point a long way nearer the goal for which he has ever striven. The renter, on his part, has ably backed up the producer by demanding pictures of a higher order than was his wont in the earlier days, whilst the exhibitor — the prey of the cynic and fanatic, and the target of the local authority — has catered for his patrons in such a manner as to raise the tone of the cinema and to prove in the majority of cases that so far as censorship is <-oncerned no outside interference is needed. Without question, the most important matter which cropped up during the past year was also the most controversive. We refer, of course, to the proposal that was made to adopt the American method of leasing instead of selling films. When this question first came into prominence we stated that we should have something to say upon the matter at a later stage, and we devoted considerable space to the publication of expressions of opinion by those likely to be affected if any change were made. Happily, the wisest counsels have prevailed, and we are, indeed, pleased to find that the closing days of 191 2 brought peace where war had been feared. The open market is undoubtedly best lor all concerned, and we congratulate the Kinematograph '(Manufacturers' Association upon having decided that the old conditions shall continue. The appointment of the film censor stands out prominently as one of the chief changes made during the past year, and although in many quarters censorship has been advocated, we ourselves do not look upon the institution of the office of censor as an unmixed blessing. The days when exhibitors of a certain type dared to run the risk of showing even suggestive pictures no longer exist, the police and the public exercise a watchful vigilance over the cinema, besides which the class of person who makes his living as a picture theatre proprietor has steadily improved, until to-day the number of men who would show anything in the most remote degree offensive to public morality can be counted on one's two hands. It is to be feared that with censorship there will be too great a tendency to make the cinema an adjunct to education pure and simple, and if ever the day arrives when educational and travel pictures, with but a sprinkling of wishy-washy censored dramas comprise the bill of fare of the electric theatre, then its demise is but a question of time. The year 1912 will also be notable as having seen further development in the direction of more lengthy Whereas the preceedine: year had seen the birth upon as til nis. of the 3,000 ft. subject which was looked temerity by many, the year which has just closed lias witnessed the production of subjects extending even to 12,000 ft. ; indeed, the point now to be considered is where will it end. It requires but little foresight to prophesy the time when we shall be given films < (insisting of a single subject which will provide thro or even four hours' entertainment. For our part, we opine to the belief that 3,000 ft. is quite sufficient for anv single story. It is the variety of the programme presented that has made the picture theatre so popular with all classes. We have said that 1912 was a year of progress; certainly it has been in regard to the type of theatre. Not only have we had more lavish cinemas proper, such as the New Gallery, the Shaftesbury Avenue Pavilion, and the like, but places which might have been considered as beyond the reach of the moving picture showmen, such as the London Opera House, Covent Garden Theatre, and the Albert Hall, have gone over, if only for a time, to pictures. All of this must be for the benefit of the industry, for to the places we have mentioned will undoubtedly be attracted many who even in these days have never previously entered a cinema. Combination has also been in the air, and we find the exhibitor, who, after all, is the mainstay of the business, has brought himself into line with the manufacturer and the renter, for the showmen of the British Isles, through the formation of an Exhibition Association, now present a solid phalanx against interference on the part of those who seem so desirous of assailing them — the local authorities and religious fanatics throughout the country. The question of Sunday opening has been much debated, and those who have attempted to coerce the London County Council into depriving the worker of the metropolis opportunities for a rational Sunday have received a serious rebuff. The attempts by the proprietors of the legitimate theatre, as well as those of the Church, have proved unsuccessful, but it is to be feared that the enemy has only been repulsed and not entirely vanquished. There is therefore need for watchful vigilance in the future, and steps should certainly be taken to see to it that in the next County Council elections all over the country only candidates who are in favour of pictures on Sunday shall receive the support both of exhibitors and their patrons. Proprietors of the electric theatres possess a unique advantage in this matter. Not only can they educate their audiences and influence them to vote against the Stigginses and Chadbands, but they can lend their halls to the candidates who favour the;r own policy, besides giving prominence to the vital question by means of hints and announcements thrown upon the screen. In wishing every section of the industry unexampled prosperity during 1913, we would urge them all to be up and doing. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. To be prepared ' is half the battle, and if they will unite and work wholeheartedly for the benefit of the trade in general they will have done much towards securing benefit for themselves.