The Exhibitor (1959)

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41 Years of Service to the Theatre Industry Founded in 1918. Published weekly by Jay Emanuel Publications, Incorporated. Publishing office: 246-248 North Clarion Street, Philadelphia 7, Pennsylvania. New York field office: 8 East 52nd Street, New York 22. West Coast field office: Paul Manning, 8141 Blackburn Avenue, Los Angeles 48, Calif. London Bureau: Jock MacGregor, 16 Leinster Mews, London, W. 2, England. Jay Emanuel, publisher; Paul J. Greenhalgh, general manager; Albert Erlick, editor; M. R. (Mrs. "Chick") Lewis, associate editor; George Frees Nonamaker, feature editor; Mel Konecoff, New York editor; Tom Wemer, Physical Theatre and Extra Profits departmental editor; Albert J. Martin, advertising manager; Max Cades, business manager. Subscriptions: $2 per year (50 issues); and outside of the United States, Canada, and Pan-American countries, $5 per year (50 issues). Special rates for two and three years on application. Second class postage paid at Phila¬ delphia, Pennsylvania. Address all official communications to the Philadelphia publishing office. VOLUME 62 • NO. 14 AUGUST 12, 1959 A POTENTIAL INDUSTRY EVIL We don’t know where it started, and maybe like Topsy it “just growed”, but the showing of pictures in New York, to small groups of large circuit executives, having theatres and doing business in from one to a dozen other territories, weeks or even months before “bids” or “splits” become effective, is the cause for a mounting tide of resentment. An important circuit executive in the mid-South, who wishes to remain nameless, recently cited music and werse on some eight important pictures that his national circuit competitor was shown in New York an average of three weeks before the same pictures were screened for the trade press, and an average of four weeks before his “bid” deadline. Another cir¬ cuit executive in the northwest complains that he is getting "the worst of it” in his product “splits,” because he can’t afford the time or money to make frequent trips to New York to see pictures; but the local competitive booker is “ serviced by his New York home office with confidential advance tips ” way ahead of the normal trade screenage. And we have assembled a file of about a dozen similar complaints that have been received in the last month or so. Now, maybe this is all very legal, or maybe the sales man¬ agers who invite their top accounts to such private screenings aren’t thinking of the ramifications outside of the New York area. But you can bet a hat that there is going to be a law suit or three that will base anti-trust charges on just such “evidence” of favoritism. There is no doubt that there are times when print scarcities make only one showing possible; but, when the record proves that preferential New York advance screenings are the rule, you can’t blame those who are being adversely affected for quietly keeping notes. You can stop lawsuits best, before they start! THE CRUX OF MOVIE CENSORSHIP We like the wording used by Spencer Coxe, executive director of one of the branches of the American Civil Liberties Union, in describing their objections to the new movie censor¬ ship bill that is proposed for Pennsylvania. He said that his organization has no quarrel with the power of the state to adopt legislation punishing people for the exhibition of obscene pictures, as long as the law is carefully drawn. “ The important distinction ” he said, “is between a criminal statute that punishes somebody for committing a well-defined crime, and a censorship statute that sets up a board not trained in law, and not bound by due process, which decides as an administrative matter to ban or not ban a film. This is censorship to which we always object .” Hear! Hear! And let’s take advantage of this opportunity to answer that old bromide about: “The state enforces Food and Drug Laws and Fire Arms Laws in order to protect our citizens, so why not Movie Obscenity Laws?” The difference is in the provable effect of violations. Whether altar boy or heavy¬ weight champ, poisoned food or poison drugs are going to make him awfully sick or awfully dead. The same result can be expected from the uncontrolled use of firearms, firecrack¬ ers, dynamite, etc. But with everybody’s ideas differing on the very meaning of the word obscenity, and with no firm proof that looking at something that someone judges to be obscene can produce definite effects either permanent or temporary to all viewers, just where is the similarity? It’s a glib curve, and nothing more! ABOUT THE GOOSE AND THE GOLDEN EGG In a “gab session recently, a veteran distributor delivered what could well be a particularly sage observation about sup¬ posed economies that hurt rather than help. To use his own words: “ Dollars saved by cutting manpower or advertising may prove to be the most expensive dollars that any distributor or exhibitor ever spent.” He then went on to elaborate. “ Some distribution executives preen themselves before the president or the board of direc¬ tors, and brag about how their economies saved the company $100,000 or $ 200,000 per year. On the surface it looks great. But get out into the field and see what happens. “ The average small exchange with 300 sales possibilities might have had three salesmen with each man responsible for about 100 accounts. Let one salesman go and the two remaining men must be responsible for 150 accounts. They just cant service and sell 50% more and maintain their former contacts and efficiencies. So $100,000 was saved, but the na¬ tional gross dropped $1,000,000. “ The average first-run theatre with 20 employees decides to fire five, or to cut 25%> of his newspaper advertising, or to cut 25%c out of the illumination of the marquee. Once again the remaining employees cant render the same patron service and courtesy, just as the 25% less advertising cant draw the same 100% patronage. So a saving is made at the expense of the weekly gross. How smart is that?" A great deal of study and thought should be given to economies. Probably twice as much study and thought as is given to increasing business. That old adage about the goose and the golden egg still stands. You can’t eat ’em both and still be in business tomorrow. In Order to be an Opinion Maker . . . You’ve Got To Have Opinions!