Variety (Feb 1941)

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Wednesday, February 5, 1941 PICTURES •Secondary' Release at 50-50 Doing Surprisingly Big B.Qi on Its Second Year That ole debbll *oxofflce grosser, «G<)he With the Wind,' Is outstrip- - ■'■pihg:;the/%ihter , f:la)est; a traffic stopper-: Where It has reV opened- at popular admission prices • f or jts second season in film houses. \ With - returns In from 36 first-run continuous engagements, : scattered from coast to .coast, indications are . pointing, to a 'secondary' fllrji rental gross approximating an excess of $4,000,000. Exhibition terms gener- ally are 50-50; prices of admission, 50c evenings, 40c matinees, except where regular scale is higher. : Although authoritative and official figures of last season's showing of •Gone' never have been issued by the ■■\ distributor, Metro, expert appraisals . within the trade set the boxoffice Intake at $20,000,000. Under the terms of 70i30,: film rental approxi- mated $14,000,000 for the Selznlck- International production; This fig- ure; combined with the anticipated .$4,000,000 rentals from popular price release, plus undetermined foreign rentals, will place, the ultimate, share to distributor and producer at con- iiderably more than $20,000,000. David O. Selznick announced, co- incident, with the first showings of the picture in December, 1939,- that, the negative, cost. was $3,900,000. Metro and S-I are financial partners In the production. .. Within another week 81 additional first run popular price exhibitions of .'Gone' will be .initiated, with ' holdovers in many of the 36 key spots now playing the picture. There is reported to be nearly 400 prints In technicolor available to theatres, all of which will be active within the next six weeks. Only two other films of recent re- ,. lease are said by showmen to ap- proach 'Gone* in 'regular' release., These are 'Boom Town' (M-G) and Cecil B. DeMille's 'North West Mounted Police* (Par). Outstand- ing feature of the grosses being rolled up by the Margaret Mitchell story is that showings are limited to four exhibitions daily, on account of Its unusual running time of three Jiours and 44 minutes. With news- reel and cartoon, turnover is not more frequent than every four hours. Other films mentioned are standard length, allowing five and - six showings daily. Some Grosses Peak boxoffice figure on 'Gone' on Its return engagements from Cleve- land (Loew's State,. 1st wk., $28,- 000; 2d wk., $22,000; 3rd aitk. (Still- man)i $11,000, and holdover; Bos- ton (State and Orpheum, combined, 1st wk., $51,000; 2d wk., Orpheum, $32,000; 3d wk., $28,000), and Pitts- burgh (Loew's, $51,000 In two weeks, continuing) are Indicative of the re- turns generally. ■"In. Atlanta (Grand) where the fum had its premiere at $1.65 scale, attendance at the first engagement of 16 weeks exceeded by 2O,O0b,per- wns the theatre-going, population of the c,ity; On the. return-engagement the first, week's receipts were $14,- 000, almost record high* ... : . In the face of major competition nom strong Broadway bookings, the , J?} urn engagement at the Capitol (N. Y.) is pushing receipts to the higher brackets. In the first week the .take was $55,000;. second week, ?48,000, with every prospect of hold- ™g. on for several weeks. Kyser on Coast Hollywood, FebV 4. ; Kay Kyser trained in yesterday (Mon.) to huddle, with RKO officials about: another picture, to be made during his eight-month stay In Cali- fornia. Meanwhile, "Kyser will fill an eh-v gagemeht on Catalina Island in addi- tion to his radio and recording chores. His last picture was 'You'll Find Out/ . PICTURES Detroit, FeBT'4. Just how. much this single feature stuff Is wishful thinking and how much the public really wants it will be put to an actual test by the Fox here In conjunction with the com- ing 'Back Street.' Detroit's first- runs are solidly double-feature but manager David Idzal is going to sample the fans' preference. For the matinee bills, the first three of the day, which he figures are the 1 bar- gain hunters' shows, 'Back Street' will be run off with another, feature. For the evening shows .it will do a solo with selected shorts. Not only does he figure that this will provide.a basis of comparison Oh the run itself .but the week's figures can be double-checked against pre- ceding weeks' matinees and night biz. It's going to be up to the fans to show how sincere they were on those polls which indicate a decided preference; for single, features and good shorts but when put into prac- tice here didn't seem to clicks Shorts are hand-picked. Typical of what will be used with 'Back Street* is a Wendell Willkie "In- formation Please,' backed up here for use with an auspicious moment. It will 'be shown here following- the play he's had on British junket and timed nicely with his return from abroad. ' ura, Eggerth In H'wood for Pic Work . Hollywood, Feb. .4. Universal Is testing Marta Eggerth while her husband, Jan Kiepura, wilts: a picture deal with one of the. /najor .studios. Latter recently com-: pieted a . South : American' concert tour. ; ;:.o :. Kiepura has an Si A. commitment Ior a series of filmusicals. • : ; : ; BETTE DAVIS' NEXT ..' • mri., Hollywood, Feb. 4. Widow, of -Devil's Island' will be we next picture for Bette Davis at Warners. ' ; Aeneas Mackenzie is writing the script from a Nicol Smith original UA, COL, U WIN DELAY TO FEB. 17 IN GOV'T SUIT '.; Application of Columbia,, United Artists, and Universal to force - the Department of. Justice to drop the ftve : producer-exhibitors . as de- fendants: in. the Government's antiV trust suit: against them was post-, poned to Feb. 17 in the N. Y. federal: court Thursday (31) by Judge Henry Warren Goddard.'. Attorneys, for the' little three; were so .busy defending other, suits that the. application could not be heard until then. Columbia also will ask for an out- right dismissal of : the'action, claim- ing it violates the 14th amendment to the Constitution, . The companies are seeking to force the: Gbv'ernment to'drop nil allega* tiohs iii the complaint regarding theatre ownership, claiming it has'rib : bearing on' .their, status./ ,.-, Ragland in Pic flattie''- ■ Hollywood, Feb; 4. ' Rags Ragland, stage comic cur-, rently in 'Panama Hattie,' was signed; to a contract by Metro, He reports June 1. ..' ; • , First assignment will, be the same role in the screen ' of the Play. - '•'. Not Top Early to Keep Pa- trons ; from ■; Dinner; Nor too Late to Cut'Into Their Sleep — Pacifies Those Who pon't Care for Sec- ondary Pix-*—May Become ■ Couhtrywicle RKO-LOEW TESTS Discovering that results at the boxoffice are better when, the main features on double bills are thrown on the screen at ? or 9:30 for the final showing, film showmen are starting to.letfn to such a policy arid it's like^. ly that the movement will become widespread.. Experiments with the scheduling of pictures: on duals would indicate that a very substan- tial slice of the public doesn't want to catch the second feature. ■ Question that is beginning to come Up in a cursory study of. the. situa-r tibn is. whether or not there is a sufficient number " of .film regulars, who want the. extra sub-feature enough to justify the continuance of . dual bills. Meantime,' it is apparent that a lot of people merely want to see the top pictures on duals, skip- ping the; secondary, feature. Again the question is whether this group of patrons is in the majority, or rep- resents a minority. The answer may become the deterrnlhing factor so far as the so-called duals; menace is con- cerned, In addition to numerous experi- ments in New York, which are to be extended, exhibitors are discussing agreements in various parts of the country to go 'all-out' on the sched- uling of the No. 1 feature at hours, that do not force people to miss their dinner, or, if catching the late show, part of their sleep. In Spo- kane, Wash., chain operators as well as independents have already agreed to do this. May Mean Upped Revenue .Among othef things, exhibitors as well as distributors are interested in the possibility that more convenient routining; of shows, putting on the main feature at 7 and again at 9 or 9:30; as it used to be before duals swamped the country, may njean in- creased revenue. > It is pointed out in this connection, however, that - the folks -who want duals and. are responsible for the policy do not care when either the No. 1 or 2 feature goes on, since they want to see two pictures. On the other hand, those who do not care to sit through two are being kept away because of the time (in the evening, of course) when the film they wish ; tp:' see Is put on.-; .Man- agers -' the ;fact that in -in-- numerable cases people call up the theatre to ask when the top feature is going on and : when , they learn it's at dinner time or;-for. the last show, at bedtime, openly express dis- appointment.-'' Assumptiori. ; is that they don't come at all as a result... : Not ; every double': bill includes what' amounts . to a lead ' feature, however. Very often a house is play- ing, two. 'dogs/ in which .case there is nothing to gain through the sched- uling. Also noted is that if main pictures aire exploited at 'best hours' for the■/benefit of patrons having no. interest iri .the lower half of-, duals, the secondary . product, may be apt; to' suiter becalise. Of the.■■ implication' that, it isn't any good.;ThiS .may catise. squawks, especially- fromvindepend-" cht. distributors;' but the .position of the exhibitors ; is that-he isn't -, re-;' sponsible for bad .films' and, a business man, it is to. his interest to increase. .the "gross no -.matter ho w he does' it. Regardless of any such, irnpiications,' however, the .greater the business of a theatre' the greater the'-' the distributor.. . . RKO, Loew's Experimenting '.. RKO and Loew's are both experi- menting with, the'scheduling of the lead, .film at desired hours... Loew's (Continued, on page 23) ream o' the Crop) As Stunt to Revive Mok B.0 Not the Typo; Hollywood, Feb. 4; ... ; v"The worst place iri the: world: to: shoot a rnotipn picture about a motion picture studio is in • motion picture studio. Leo. McCarey discovered that fact when . he '. was trying .to make a studio like a studio in 'The Cowboy; and the Blonde/ Everybody butted in, including executives; secretaries, 'truck drivers and what not; McCarey finally set Up a. studio set on the back lot to make it look like a studio. " • • 3 FOR HANDLING . Charging duplication arid fencing in. 'hot films,' the office' 1 of the U. S; district attorney for Manhattan on Saturday (1) handed up a sealed iri 7 . dictrrient charging three men with having infringed. on the. copyrights of films by duping and selling them for exhibition^^Tijose- to be indicted are Louis Colasuono. known as L. D. Colson, head of the Colson Motion Picture Service, Bronx, N. Y.; An- tonio Cardillo, his alleged partner; and Sol Jaffe, a photographic tech- nician, and head of Movielab Film Labs., Inc., of 1600 Broadway. This is the . first action of its kind in the history of criminal actions in the Southern District of N. Y. The indictment charges the de- fendants with infringement of copy- rights in renting duped film? for exhibition in churches, schools and charitable - groups, who accepted them in the belief that the defen- dants had been licensed to distribute them. According to .the U. S. at- torney's investigators, the defendants secured 35 mm. prints and reduced them to 16 mm'., which were then sold. The films originally - were either stolen or .'borrowed' sur- reptitiously- from persons or agents engaged in legitimate business. The indictment lists, five films, ' Metro's 'Ben Hur/ /20th's\'Littlest Rebel' and 'A Connecticut Yankee,' Warners' 'Dinky' and 'The Little Flower of Jesus' (Sunray Films). Under the two indictments the de- fendants, if proven guilty, would be subject to fines of $11,000 and im- prisonment of three years each. Yesterday (Tues.) all,., three de- fendants; pleaded not guilty before Judges ! Edward A.. Conger and. Al- fred Ci'Coxc,: with the bail of Cola- supno and: Jaffe set at. $2,500 each, and .Cardillo. at $1,000. Tentative trial date.-of Feb.-17. was 'also set.. Minneapolis', Feb. '4.. In a -campaign to sell the/public the: idea that 'motion, pictures are better than ever/, the Eddie: Ruben (Welwbrth) circuit will: book- into its .15 theatres. corisecutiyely, the six best pictures available and exploit the group .'- 'The .Big Six.' .Plans ; for' the drive were, cbmpleted at a meeting' of the circuit's personnel here. •' • . * ■, \ For each situation the group neces- sarily - will have to be diilerent^-or at least its. arrangement cannot be the same throughout the chain—but selections will be made from such- releases ' as 'Philadelphia Story,' 'Kitty Foyle,' 'Santa Fe Trail.' 'Andy ; Hardy's Private Secretary/. 'Mr. arid Mrs. Smith' and 'This thiiig Called Love/. ; There are too many people who remain away frorn the movie the- atres because of the mistaken: belief. that pictures no .longer are any good/ Ruben told his.managers/. 'As a matter of fact, there probably never.'has been a time in the indus- try's history when the general qual- ity average was so high of so many outstanding films were turned put in a corresponding period as at present. • There has been too: much slan- dering of pictures by people who either, are ignorant or act from uK terior motives. The boxoffice. has been crumbling under these on- slaughts. Except in a few instances, even the iriferior pictures give the public a big. entertainment run for their money. If we demonstrate to amusement seekers—as wc now are able to do—that films are the best entertainijient and that.every screen offering at our theatres is very much worthwhile it should not be at all. difficult to win back patrons who. have been Staying away and thus re- vive the boxoffice. This probably is one of the first times in the industry's history when ' We've been able to five, the public six smash hits in a row. . I regard this as conclusive evidence that films are; irhproving and product attaining. a quality peak,' In a smaller way, Paramount has been putting oh a similar drive at its State here. It grouped and ex- ploited 'Kitty Foyle.' 'Philadelphia Story' and 'Santa Fe' as i the 'Big Three/ Cummings Into 13th Yr. As 20th-Fox Director NEW HUNG IN PIRACY SUIT FOR $1,000;000 Los Angeles, Feb. 4. Suit for $1,000,000 filed'by Norman Houston and Lquis Ullhnart agaihst Columbia Pictures, charging plagi- arism in the production of 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington-/ has been taken; off the rj. district court calendar temporavily, with new"; ac- tions, pending, . - '. In the dual suit, Houston charges piracy of his yarn,. 'Clowns in . Con- gress/ and Ullmjin-claims a copyright. infringement on his 'Three Little Tales Go to Market/ Suits were ■filed simultaneously | n the Superior court nrid later transferred to the Federal-.tribunal.' ■ ■ ■ .;'"■'') '■■ / v- Hollywood, Feb. 4. . . Irving Cummings, senior • director On the 20th-Fox lot, drew. new contract .ah'd -was, assigned ; to ''Belle Starr,-' a tale of .AmeriCa's : toughest female bandit ' . . the' frefe-for-all; days. : : Cummings . has. been with the studio since 1928, Alice' Faye, Betty Grable and Virginia Gilmpi'e are up for the. name- role ' 'Starr/ Hayden's Fast Climb ,:;' ■ . Hollywood; Feb. .4. Stirling. Hayden, who made His film .debut in 'Virginia/: get's, the, ep- starririg role with Dorothy- LarhflCir in his second picture. 'Dildp Cay/ at Paramount. -''.'' : : • Edward H. Griffith is producer, director/ Freak Mishap Gases Jeanetjc ]VIacDohaId '.- .. Lynchbiirg, Va., Feb. .4. . - ■ Tear, gas, turned loose accidentally in the ; Roanoke,. 1 !Va!, Auditoriurii , didn't - help - .;the'^ cold fx-pm. wKich. ■ iJeariette MacDonold -is .currently ■'■ suffering: • ' -. . Accident occurred a few hours : b'e- foire sihgei; was to give a Concerti A national guard. .company"s ^-supply of tear gas. .bombs, became ..leaky in some mann;cr...and;;'.'filled ,hall with fumes.. Despite: long airing, the audi- , torium -was Still acrid' when. .Miss • MacDona'rl began to sing, and she . and audience 'wept' . copiously' throughout program. • I Next. day she • cancelled an Ash- ville concert arid hurried to Florida I to'-.-get over her cold. - -