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October 7. 1944
S H O \\' M E N ' S TRADE REVIEW
The Feast Is On
Many subsequent run exhibitors feel that the distributors are not overly-anxious to sell them product and when they do finally make a deal it is not in a spirit of a seller courting, or anxious for, the business of the buyer.
If this information is correct, it explains a lot of things that have been happening during the past eighteen months. So let's analyze it for a bit:
Producers make pictures for profit. That's elementary and common-sense. And by producers we mean those controlling distribution channels as well as producers who finance their own pictures for distribution through whatever source will get them the highest return for their investment.
At this time the greatest revenue comes from the first runs. Subsequent-run exhibitors already know to their sorrow and loss that their customers would rather go "downtown" and pay the higher admission price than wait until the picture reaches the neighborhood. Thus, i 'ou have a most fantastic boom in the first runs.
With such a condition it stands to reason that the de -luxe first runs are a heap sight more important to the producers than the rest of the theatres. They get a higher admission which adds up to a high gross which, in turn, adds up to a healthy cut in percentage for the distributor and producer.
This one source of revenue is so terrific that it has, naturally, become the most important order of business to all concerned. On the other hand the rise in revenue from key city first runs has made the amount of revenue, percentage wise, from later runs seem comparatively small to the man who makes pictures.
Sure, it's an unhealthy condition but perfectly natural.
The most serious by-product of this condition is that the distributor is endowed with powerful leverage in all selling deals with operators of smaller theatres who insist that they cannot pay the percentage terms demanded. That just adds another complexity to the buying problems of those exhibitors who need top product more than ever. The exhibitor in such situations must give up his chance of buying on flat rental or low percentage terms in order to stay in business. In such a tug o' war, the exhibitor is definitely on the short end of the rope.
Now we honestly believe that any distributor or producer who ignores the later runs is making a serious mistake in the long-range sense. Because with the first sign of a falling off in the first runs, business in the subsequent runs will start to climb again. "When that happens the salesman and his superiors will again go court
ing the little guys all over again BUT, where such subsequent runs are without too much competition, they may elect to act a bit choosey themselves and may be inclined to forget the "bone" that was thrown their way during the boom.
The independent exhibitor is, always has been, the backbone of this industry. In the post-war building program there will probably be more theatres built by independent operators than by circuits, if only for the government's attitude against further circuit expansion. Thus the unimportant account today may be a mighty important one tomorrow, and the day after.
True, no one can blame the producer for trying to get all he can while the getting is good. But he should not let this big money blind him to the possible harm he may be doing to his future relations with the guys on the short end of the percentage figures either.
It's smart business to cultivate the boom part of your market but it is still smarter to hang on to the goodwill and business from the other customers too.
ts Different ''Down Under
From Australia's Film Weekly we extract the following quote: "One of the largest crowds of exhibitors
gathered together for the all-dav trade show of
Fox headliners . . ."
Apparently, trade shows "down under" are far more popular than they are here in the United States. Of course we must add that the Australian trade show was accompanied by a free buffet lunch. But from all reports about our own trade shows even a free meal isn't enough to bring out the exhibitors.
Continuation of the trade show business in the U. S. — whether it be travel difficulties or just plain exhibitor apathy to them — seems as farcical as it is wasteful.
By the time this issue is off the press we will be heading west for our annual coast trip, during which we expect to gain first-hand acquaintance with the product situation for the new season.
As in the past, we shall try to convey via this page, our reactions and predictions of the studio situation. We hope you find the occassional reports both interesting and constructive.