Motion Picture Herald (Jul-Aug 1943)

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July 31, 1943 MOTION PICTURE HERALD 13 MINIMUM OF 438 FEATURES DISPELS SHORTAGE FEARS 4-Year Totals Compared i rt A A A 1 943-44 1 942-43 1 f\ A 1 A O 1 94 1 -42 1 f\ A f\ A 1 1 940-4 1 Product Product Product Product Company Announced Delivered Delivered Delivered Columbia 44 49 63 56 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 36 c 36 48 51 Monogram 40 44 54 42 Paramount 30 32a 42 51 Producers Releasing Corp 40 37 38 33 Republic 68 57b 54 57 RKO Radio 40 47 39 47 Twentieth Century-Fox . . . 36-40d 44 54 48 United Artists 25-30d 30 28 21 Universal 55 59 63 61 Warner Bros 24-3 Id 24 39 51 TOTAL . 438-454 459 522 518 a This includes two reissues released by Paramount this season, "Union Pacific" and "Souls At Sea". b The total of 57 does not represent Republic's total releases for the 1942-43 season. The company probably will announce other features and Westerns for this year. c MGM did not officially announce 36 features for 1943-44, but it is indicated the company's schedule will not exceed this number and in all likelihood will show a slight decrease from the 1942-43 program. d Twentieth Century-Fox, United Artists and Warner Bros, have indicated next season's schedules will fall somewhere between the figures shown. Warners has announced its program will be "flexible", depending on market conditions. Paramount, at its recent New York sales meeting, also announced a "flexible" schedule. Analysis of Studio Plans Shows Maximum Will Total 454 Pictures There will be no sharp curtailment in the number of features available to theatres next season, analysis of product announcements shows. A maximum of 454 pictures for 1943-44, compared to 459 delivered this season, is planned, with a minimum of 438 indicated. This year's deliveries were 63 less than the 522 released in 1941-42. A survey of forthcoming product shows that a total of 148 top-budget productions are scheduled by studios for the new season, compared to 119 for 1942-43. A maximum of 221 smaller pictures, and a minimum of 205 features in this category are planned, compared with the 258 program pictures released this season. Westerns remain at approximately the same level with 85 for next season compared to 82 this year, although forthcoming allocation of Westerns in this year's bracket may bring the latter total up. Trend Is Toward Fewer And Better Pictures The war itself, the theatre boom and decree selling all have been influences toward uncertainty in studio schedules and influences toward the production of fewer and better pictures. This trend was more decided in 1942-43 than in 1943-44. Motion Picture Herald of July 3rd analyzed this trend in relation to the selling and exploitation of pictures. The breakdown of company announcements for the coming season,, according to the type of features offered, is as follows : 1943-44 1943-43 Product Product Announced Delivered j Top budget films. 148 119 I Smaller pictures. . .205-221 258 Westerns 85 82 438-454 459 That exhibitors will be offered more "A" product and fewer lower budget pictures again emphasizes the seriousness of the first run holdover jam on subsequent run theatres which developed during 1942-43. Distribution executives and exhibitors alike are giving close attention to this situation, but at i present, neither can determine how far| reaching or permanent the product jam I will be. Since September of last year, super-budget and "A" productions have been getting longer playing time. Motion Picture Herald reported on June 19th that playdates for top pictures increased this season as much as 30 per cent compared to previous years. Generally, the increased business at the nation's box offices was reflected in playdate figures on "A" product. All 11 distributors recorded peak levels for the bigger pictures in theatre bookings, repeat engagements and holdovers. Smaller features played out bookings more quickly this season than in previous years. Record-making holdovers in practically every metropolitan center, meanwhile, resulted in booking and playoff problems which piled up across the country for subsequent run theatres. As Motion Picture Herald reported on July 17th, a thorough shakeup in traditional methods of release and playoff developed in many key cities. From all indications, the selling of motion pictures next season will be the same as this year. Little departure is expected from the sales formulas set up under the Consent Decree, the three-year trial period of which terminates on November 20th. After that date the distributors or the Government may move for a revision of its terms, to set it aside, or for a new trial of the New York bill of complaint. In the absence of such action, however, most provisions of the decree, sales terms included, remain binding indefinitely. Paramount, RKO Radio and Twentieth Century-Fox will continue to sell blocks of five pictures or less, after trade showings. Warners will maintain its single picture selling plan, with a limited number of releases. United Artists also will follow its customary unit sales policy. MGM will offer "as many pictures as are available" in its blocks, seeking to release about four groups of 10 or less. The company already has designated the first block of 10 for the new season. Columbia, Universal, Republic and Pro ducers Releasing will continue full season sales as in the past, but Monogram, for the first time, will offer a block of eight pictures to open the new season. Approximately the same number of "specials" will be released next season and will be sold individually by the majors as were offered this year, according to present indications, including Paramount's "For Whom the Bell Tolls." In 1942-43, MGM sold separately "Random Harvest" and "The Human Comedy" ; Twentieth Century-Fox, "Tales of Manhattan" and "Desert Victory"; RKO, "Spitfire," and Paramount "Star Spangled Rhythm" and "Reap the Wild Wind." _ On the basis of the star and production values of the 148 top-budget productions scheduled for 1943-44, it is indicated that distributors will ask for at least as many high percentage deals next season as were concluded this year. Paramount's "Dr. Wassell" To Receive Big Campaign Paramount's "The Story of Dr. Wassell" will receive publicity and exploitation nationally comparable to that given "For Whom the Bell Tolls," the company's general sales manager, Neil Agnew, announced Tuesday in New York. The picture is in Technicolor, and was produced by Cecil B. De Mille. It stars Gary Cooper and Laraine Day. A percentage of the gross receipts will go to the Navy Relief Society.