Publix Opinion (Jan 17, 1930)

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TTT PUBLIX OPINION, WEEK OF JANUARY 171n, 1930 BAD STREET GAR! TIE-UP PROVES EXPENSIVE An example of how a good exploitation idea may be put to poor use came to the attention of PUBLIX OPINION in a report from a Publix town on a street car tie-up to combat the Monday slump. The mistake the theatre made was to give entirely too much for the value received. . The plan as outlined originally by Maurice Rubens of the Great States Theatres and as carried out by the Publix theatres of Joliet emphasized the following: “‘no reductions were to be made in admission prices and no agreement must be made to share the street ear fare reduction.” In the tie-up reported to PUB| LIX OPINION the theatre ran a trailer of 150 feet at every performance showing the wretched traffic conditions in the town, ‘printed 40,000 cards that were dis tributed by the conductors, furnished the signs for display frames inside the cars, and paid the railway company eight and one third cents for every two-for-one ride furnished free to theatre patrons. This is equivalent to a ticket reduction but is even worse because it is the street car company that gets all the credit for magnanimity. — ae return for this the theatre received $35 a week for running the trailer. The cards distributed in the trolley cars, and signs on a specially bannered car that was driven through the city during the peak hour, were paid for by the theatre. The street car company benefited from this tie-up in every conceivable way at the expense of the theatre. The theatre should have done nothing more than pay for the printing, but should not have shared: the price reduction and should have been more wary in the use of a 150 foot trailer at every performance. The much better Joliet tie-up from which the foregoing was developed will be found described in the issue of PUBLIX OPINION for the week of December 13th, Vol. ITI, No. 14. SPECIAL TRAILER FOR ‘DISRAELI’ Feeling that so important a picture as “Disraeli” required special handling, Madeline Woods, Director of Publicity and Advertising of the Publix-Great States Theatres, prepared a special trailer for this attraction. Miss Woods was afraid that those who know nothing of the star or the play might be kept away by the stock trailer because it showed that the attraction was a costume affair. A special trailer was prepared, minimizing the costume angle and stressing the big dramatic punches of the picture. 00-020 -O-2 6+ B-O+-O-1 01-0102 Or O02 O02 SO S102 OOS MICKEY FINN Lad e@ ‘ Publix Opinion’s irreprest sible office boy, Mickey Finn, ! picked up “VARIETY” and ; read Rae Samuels’ page-ad in °¢ the RKO annual number. “I ? see that she calls ‘Variety’ 4 the ‘Voice of Show Busi¢ ness,”’’ complained Mickey to ! Your Editor. ‘Well, what 4 of it?” 3 e : ‘ ¢ ¢ ¢ patiently asked $ i : : ! : i : { : Your Editor. ‘‘Hah,” an 4 swered Mickey, ‘‘as soon as ; we labeled PUBLIX OPIN + ION “the voice of Pub ' lix,” that RKO gang started ; a paper, and called theirs ¢ “The Voice of RKO.” Now { VARIETY tops the works by ; being the ‘‘voice’’ of show 4 ; business, according to this 4 Samuels dame. Looks to me ? ; like the industry has also ? “wired”? all the editors of $4 t the house organs and trade ; { papers.’”’ The answer Mickey ¢ ? got to that one, was his cus? Of e tomary kick in the pants. 10°98 e-O-Bc-O-0 Oe-O-O?-S-Oe-S+O:-OO:-S8:-S8*G8? OG: HOME OFFICE DEPARTMENTS Here is the eighth ofa series of stories about Publix Home Office Department personalities who depend upon your effort, just as you depend upon theirs. To know and understand each other’s person alities and problems will lighten the burdens of everyone, and make our tasks enjoyable. For this reason, PUBLIX OPINION is devoting an important part of its space to these brief biographical sketches. WILLIAM M. SAAL Director of Film Buying and Booking Dept. As colorful as his own bright red hair and constantly good natured smile, is the career to date of William M. Saal, General Director of Publix Film Buying and Booking Department. Right at the outset, it might be pointed out that Bill is so good-natured that for a long, long time Your Editor has innocently and wrongfully referred to him as William ‘A”’ Saal, not knowing that his middle initial was ‘“M,’’ which may or may not stand for Mike. Bill is just like that. Anyone else a tenth as important and beloved as he, would have squawked a long time ago—but not Bill. We found out that it was ‘‘M” instead of “A” by accident, when he wrote out his check after a poker game on a train! Anyway, ‘Bill’ Saal is a favorite of everybody in Publix, from Tony, the building bootblack, all the way up the line. It’s just his way, and you can’t help liking him, any more than the average male person could ignore redheaded Clara Bow or redheaded Nancy Carroll. — His sense of values in buying and booking is unquestioned by anyone in the industry. Also, that of his gang of staff-associates, district bookers, and other departmental specialists under his\supervision. They are the types of manpower and good fellowship that add volumes about the characteristics of their chief, who knew how to select them. But to get on with the story: ‘Bill,’ we asked him one day, while at lunch and without letting him suspect that he was about to be posed in the nude for a biography, “how do you get that way?” “What way are you _ talking about?” he asked, as we pulled a cigar out of his pocket, and switched luncheon checks on him. “Oh, just being one of the best liked guys in the Home Office, and still having everybody give you credit for steadily turning in a marvelous job, instead of loafing,’ we answered, not noticing that Bill meanwhile had _ reswitched the lunch-checks and was forgetting to return our apparently-platinum lightless-cigar-lighter. “Don’t cry, Bill—just lean back and tell all—bare your soul— pour out your life story in the columns of PUBLIX OPINION where everybody can swim in it,” we urged. “Well ah’ll tell ya!’ he started in his St. Louis-to-Texas drawl. From then on, the panic was under way. Everything was interesting excepting the parts he asked us to leave out—like the time he was born in Dallas, Texas, or when he was launched for the Lord’s work in a school that turns out Men of The Cloth. The part about him running away from school and home at the age of 13, and boarding a slow freight to San Antone, is also best left unrecorded, because it got Bill an anatomical reddening, from heavy ‘micks, razzle-dazzle, and_ getting first and most. It was at this period that he met | Mister Saal was hired on the spot, parental hands, that apparently moved up and settled in his hair. After that parental cure, he finished school, and a few years later we see him back in San Antonio, studying a ‘‘Boy Wanted”’ sign in front of a nickelodeon that Bill Lytle owned, but had permitted to be operated by a gent who acted as the combination doorkeeper and porter, until that gent unbeknownst, departed for parts unknown. In those days Bill Lytle (now our Publix Partner in Texas) was earning more money elsewhere than was being garnered by the doorkeeper-porter he had just fired. So our Mister Saal asked for the job. Having just been graduated from college, he could answer anything, so he got it. Being honest, Mr. Saal commenced to turn in so much profit that Mr. Lytle permanently retired from the banking business, and occupied himself with the theatre. It was here that Bill Saal first became ‘Mister,’ and learned the portering business simultaneously while taking tickets and being sole projectionist. In leisure hours, he was also the billposter and Director of Advertising. In those days, film companies usually gave away their product, with a package of chewing gum, and charged for the gum. Buying and Booking was practically unknown, therefore, except in the bicycle industry. Feeling the urge for new fields to conquer, Mr. Saal found a job with a travelling carnival company, as projectionist for a film called ‘“‘The Great Chicago Fire AND Other Sensations.” A year of this taught Bill, (now a “Mister’), all about geography, pitcher-and-washbowl hotels, gim E. V. Richards, who is now one of Publix’ vice-presidents. Perceiving a copy of ‘‘Variety”’ thru a hole in Mister Saal’s trousers, Mr. Richards knew him to be a showman. Mr. Richards had just run out of a manager for his “Queen” theatre in Dallas, and for the job of office-boy and General Director of Queen Theatre Management. When Mr. Richards sold the “Queen,” he got his 18-year old Director of Queen Theatre Management a job as poster and shipping clerk in a Dallas film exchange. A few months later, having learned to read English, the booker was promoted, and Bill got his job. From that moment on, Mr. Saal commenced to be taken seriously. He had to see to it that all five reels of five reel features got to their destinations, simultaneously, and on a wagon instead of by bicycle. He was booking film all over Texas, and having clean fun, attending meetings of Theatre Owners Chambers of Commerce regularly, when somebody started a war in Europe. So Bill joined the army headed by George Creel, Opie Read and Pitchfork Smith, making rhetorical whoopee in the interest of the Liberty Bonds that were required to keep the war going. This taught him some more about geography and human frailty, particularly when the war got personal and someone handed Bill a bayonet and hobnail shoes. After the war was over, Bill resumed his good humor, and found a good job with the E. H. Hulsey theatres, until the Hulsey properties were sold to Steve Lynch. Mr. Saal went along with the other chattels, and survived with steadily increasing wit, courage, ability, and whatnot, thru the various degrees that saw him thru the Hulsey-to-Lynch change, and the Lynch-to-Paramount era. For two and a half years thereafter, Mr. Saal developed a loud and quick voice in combat with film salesmen who wanted him to buy product he didn’t want to buy for SEND BILLS TO HOME OFFICE IMMEDIATELY The attempt to stop all unnecessary leakage in funds has brought to light the fact that appreciable amounts are lost to the firm through the failure of managers to send all bills to the Home Office accounting department immediately. This has resulted, upon advice from Mr. Sam Dembow, Jr., in a general order from M. F. Gowthorpe, head of the accounting department, that all bills must be sent to the home office immediately after being okayed by the manager. “In a number of cases,’ declared Mr. Gowthorpe, ‘“‘we have lost discounts because we did not pay our bills within the specified time limits. One manager held light and power bills over ten days for two months, resulting in a loss charged to the theatre of $170. This happened despite the fact that definite instructions had been given that such bills. were not to be held even one day. “Not only does the delay result in a considerable dollar loss but it breaks down the entire system of good will with local merchants that has been built up so carefully. The matter has become so serious that it is now receiving the attention of the Cost Control Committee which probably will consider disciplinary action in the case of delinquents in 1930.” It is also essential,that all 1929 bills or explanations for those not on hand be in the Home Office accounting department at the earliest possible date. The delay on the part of any manager means a delay in closing the books for the year for all operations, and it is most urgent that this be speeded up. thot >, Jeloieleloiojeloioleiofeoietefotetefotefotets oe + ASSIGNMENTS Peet sololofolofolofolololofohonotototeye Eugene Karlin, former manager of the St. Francis Theatre in San . Francisco, has been transferred to the Victory Theatre, Salt Lake City, succeeding P. A. Speckart, resigned. G. C. McKinnon, assistant manager of the Century, Minneapolis, has been advanced to the managership of the Chateau Dodge, Rochester, Minn. T. EF. Bledsoe, formerly publicity director of the. St. Francis Theatre, San Francisco, has been assigned to .the United Artists Theatre, Los Angeles. F. L. Clawson has been succeeded as manager of the Orpheum Theatre, Ogden, Utah by Jack Marpole, formerly student manager at the Capitol, Salt Lake City. Byron McElligott, formerly manager of the Orpheum, Sioux City, has assumed the management of both the Huron and Bijou Theatres, Huron, S. D. at >, About that time, Sam Dembow, who was in charge of Paramount’s buying and booking, needed a lot of help, so he hired Mr. Saal, who had previously worked for him while with Fox, and about whom he knew everything except the time when Bill put in most of 1919 as Boss Press Agent. for the Missouri Theatre in. St. Louis, where Bill worked so hard that even Selznick, Realart, Second National and Vitagraph pictures turned in great profit making grosses. intervening eight years that when Mr. Dembow became Publix’ executive vice-president, Bill took over the Southern Enterprises, for which he was headman in the buying department. One day ‘he lost his voice, and somebody instantly sold him A Picture. It didn’t happen to have any gross in its cast, so Bill came by air to New York, where with the late Wid Gunning he had a partnership arrangement in film distribution. Mr. Dembow’s old job. complaint that has ever been heard since that date, is now— and it’s Ye Ed who makes it—because Bill has forgotten to return that seemingly platinum lightless cigar-lighter he borrowed here in ~ Paragraph Six. Everything else you ever hear about Bill Saal is strictly complimentary. So well has he wrought, in the The only —