Variety (Nov 1948)

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WedncsJay, November 3, 1948 PICTIJItES EXTENDED DATES DOWN,CUTS B.O. Par Continues Feelers with Partners Or Others on Breaking Up Theatres While the Government anti-trust+ aclioii is set for another go in the courts, Paramount, largest of the theatre-owning majors, is continu- ing to negotiate with a number of its theatre partners for a breakup of joint holdings. Company, alter months of preparation, is attempt- ing to fix a price and has asked foi* bids from various partners before seeking buyers on the outside. Reportedly, Butterfleld circuit, consisting of 112 theatres, mainly in Micliigan, is one of the chains involved. Par holds a 25% inter- est in 90 theatres and 33% in 22. KKO has 10% Interest in 90 and 33% in 22. Negotiations to move out Butterfield, it's said, have been going on for several months. Since the company is on a friendly, basis with all or almost all partners, it is giving them the ■ first opportunity to.., acquire the Paramount intertfst. Where tlie partner has balked on offering a price or has set one too low ac- cording to Par's lights, company . has taken one of two alternatives. It has either made efforts to buy out the partner so as to end the Joint' operation or p\it out feelers for an" outside bid. Number of big indie exhibs re- port cautious sounding-out by Para- mount on their Interest in acquir- ing joint holdings. So far, it's said, the feelers indicate only that Par wants to get a line on what they could obtain from outside in- .■.terests. ^^ Par''s biggies, it's said, are con- vinced that the breakup of joint holdings is imminent. Hence, the concentrated surveys and current negotiations based on a desire to avoid hasty action when a court ord^r comes down. Busy Gal Hollywood, Nov. 2. Calamity Jane knew where ■ she was going in the old -west- • ern days but now she is riding four ways at the same time on. the screen, Jane Russell plays the Ca- lamity role in Paramount's "Paleface." Yvonne de Carlo rides in "Calamity Jane and Sam Bass" for U-I. Cathy Downs gallops for Screencraft in "Calamity ,Jane and the Texan,!' and Doris Day is climbing aboard a hos^ for the same role in a Mike Curtiz, musical,■ .■... .■:■„.■: ■ , . SEIDELMAN, COHN DUE IN N. Y. FROM ABROAD Paris, Nov. 2, Joseph H. Seidelman, Universal's foreign chief. Is en route to the U, S, on the Queen Elizabeth after a short inspection of the continen- tal market. Ha was particularly impressed with the Italian situa- tion where he described busineis as excellent, . Al,so homing Is Columbia Pic- tures' vcepee Jack Cohn who's been making the r o u n d s here, He left by plane Is already back in N, Y. Former Chicago nitcry Impresario Albert Bou'che Is also on his way back after study local - bistro setups. Par and M-G Settle Balto Suit; Better Clearance Baltimore, Nov. 2, . Paramount and Metro have set- ■ tl^d a $600,000 treble damage an- 'ii-trusl action brought against them and four other majors by the Windsor theatre, indie nabe, in Federal court here^ Negotia- tions are being pushed for,settle- ment with 20th-Fox, United Art- ists, • Universal and Warner Bros, on the same terms. No cash was paid either by Par or M-G in securing a discontinu- ance of the action. Instead, Wind- sor ■ is guaranteed first-run nabe availability and given a split, on product. Windsor had asked the court to enjoin the defendants from feed- ing its competing houses, Wal- brook and Hilton, first-run nabe product, unless it gets the same availability. UA Admits Pitch ForUKFihnCoin Unlikely for OK United Artists home office of-' ficials this week confirmed reports that the company is seeking a loan from the British government's Na- I tional Film Finance Council to bankroll UA's British production I but admitted they had little chance of success. One of the main provisos of the original British plan called for the money to be used for the financing of British producers only, so that granting of a loan to UA would require Parliamentary action , to revise the fund's administration. I UA was forced into seeking the I loan because of ■ its unique posi-^ \ lion in England. While other I American companies; have frozen j funds there with which to finance I their British-made films, all the frozen funds accrued by UA films in England belong to the indie producers releasing through the company. Thus, according to UA execs; the. company hasn't suffi- (Continucd on page 14) Failure of much current product: to prove strong enough at the box* office to obtain extended playing timeii^ one.of the main reasons for film business this year sagging 12-18% below 1947 in principal: key cities. This is revealed by a VaImety survey of theatre business in over 20 keys, including N. Y., Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia^ where biggest grosses are run tip by key product. A typical week this month shows 128 theatres had pictures playing on first-weeks while in comparable week of 1947 only 100.houses had films on initial week.. playdates; Multiplying this differential of 18 theatres by some 30 additional key cities (the 50 biggest cities con- stitute about 75% of total rental coin in U.S.), gives some idea'of how holdover biz has declined as compared with a year ago. This, dip in 20 representative" key . cities, - aS: done by Variety,; reveals only 57 holdover dates plus 12 moveover engagements this year as against 75 films holding over in corresponding week of 1947. Of the holdovers few are going beyond the third week this year. I Chickup 'shows only 19 pictures ilast three weeks on longer as against 28 films in 1947, Of these, ' just 13 played four weeks: or over as compared with 20 pix that went four stanzas or longer last year. Figures also reveal that this year (Continued on page 16) Par-ites West Group of Paramounteers planed to the ,Coast yesterday (Tucs,1, for vstudio. huddles on recently conir pleted pix. Those who left were Charles M. Reagan, Paul Raibourn, Stanley Shuford and Ben Washer. Barney Balaban with Henry Ginsberg awaits them west. N.Y. DIRECTORS' SURVEY OF EASTERN PIC PROD. ; First detailed survey of eastern production;' ; its personnel and facilitiesi will be launched within the next couple of weeks by Gene Martell, N' Y, Screen Directors Guild president. Survey's aim will be to line up data on the com- mercial, educational and documen- tary fields with respect to their ca- pacity to handle anticipated, ex- pansion of television film produc- tion. ■ ■ ■ SDG also plans to place the data in'the hands of the Mayor's Committee for further promotion of eastern production with well- grounded arguments. Survey will cover .number of workers, avail- able 'studio space,, working condi- tions and types of equipment. 'Sorry,' 'Sam' Scored Washington, Nov. 2. Two of the top grossers currently —"Sorry, Wrong Number" and "Good Sam"-^have been nixed by i the Pj-olestant Film Council, which lists them as "definitely not recom- mended." ; The Council's review declared loC "Wrong Number" that "ethi- 'cally and morally, there is no justi- ificatlon for a vicious and tortuous [film of this sort " Of "Good Sam," lllie Council explained: "Our seri- lous qualms about this picture re- llate principally lo the slapstick land -satirical manner in which ;'' i.*! treated ..such 1am- 1 pooning antics offend the most or- idinarj proprieties, as well as re- ' fleet on the evangelical good taste 'that is part and parcel of Salvation 'Army procedure. We regret that , Garv Cooper was chosen to portray 'the "unfortunate Sam; he gains no istatute by the performance." Fear of U.S. Frown On Further Theatre Bldg. Causes F&M-Par Tiff Holly wood,-Nov.. 2. : .Dispute between Paramount and the Fanchon &: Marco circuit over the disposition of a valuable piece of unimproved realty on Wilshire Blvd. which the two outfits own jointly may lead to the courts. F&M is insisting that a theatre be erected on the spot without further delay. Parj on the other hand, is balk- ing because of possible rep|risals by the Government in view of the pending anti-trust actioni While no theatre freeze exists at the pres- ent time, Par is afi'aid future court rulings would affect the venture. Unless the tiff can be adjusted, there is a likelihood of . a partition action in the courts. SEARS WEST TO WRAP TAKEOVER OF HUGHES' 3 United Artists president Grad Sears heads for the Coast next week to wrap lip the deal for Howt ard Hughes to buy back three films he produced originally for UA re- lease. Sears will huddle vi'ith Hughes and James Nasser, who are; to bankroll an unspecified number of pix to be turned out by UA pro- ducers in a second*money; role, in return for Hughes gaining back his ■three.. ■ ■ Although negotiations are near completion. Sears definitely won't; give up the Hughes productions until, he ascertains what the new- UA films are to be, who's to pro- duce them, their casts, stories, etc. That's based on the assumption that it would be unwise to give up three pictures whose values are determined in return: for others: that are still in the talking .stage. Hughes and >iasser, of course, are just as interested in the new UA productions, since they'll get the usual second-money returns from them. Hughes' money, which has been ; reported at $600,000-$750.0()0, may I be spread out over more than the '.three films originally planned. It I will be up to the three execs to de- ! termine how many pictures- are to I be made with the coin. Hughes, in I return, will get back "Outlaw." '•'Mad Wednesday" and "Vendetta," which he produced as aa indie for UA. These are now to be released by RKO, ot which companj he's ithc principal stockholder. Negotiations to Settle Anti-Trust Suit Collapse; Goes to Bat Next Mon. Election B.O. Blue^ ■ Decline in ; nationar film grosses in the past month does not stem primarily from many of several, causes advanced in recent weeks, according lo top distribution executives; but is a natural result of pre-elec- tion interest; Every; Presiden- tial election year finds picture theatre business suffering, and '48 is no exception. Current week should see a sharp upbeat, with the voting yesterday (Tues.) out ol the way. M-G s Legal Memo For Decree Delay Slapped by Dof J Justice Department hit back over the weekend at; an anti'trust brief filed with the trldl court by Loew's, Inc.; which called upon i J. D. to bring the record of the' case up-to-date. The Loew memor randum with the New York court argued that the divorcement Issue should not be considered until the court; examined the ..circumstances of the acquisition of each theatre owned by a Big Five defendant company; ; In/addition, Loew's said, it had been in partial compliance with the 1946 decree of the trial court, the one which was largely over- ruled by the Supreme court. "We are; aware of no case," said the Government brief submitted with the New Vork court, "which suggests that because partial vol- untary compliance with a Sherman Act decision pending appeal has occurred no final decree is needed: "The need for such relief be- comes more acute than ever when the decision on' appeal removes a threat of judicial enforcement of the conduct voluntarily under- taken. Our proposed judgment contains relief proposals of the only . kind sanctioned by; the Su- preme Court decision to replace the vacated Sanctions-. "The case for these provisions might conceivably be met or weak- ened by proof of changes-in the defendants' theatre control occur- ring subsequent to the closing of the trial record. To the extent that such data is readily available to us we :are ourselves Incorporating it in the r6cord. But the plaintiff is not obligated to keep the record fresh in all respects desired by the defendants and the task is physi- cally impossible, in any event. ; "The only way in which this court may meet the problem of (Continued on page 55) Self-Policing by H'wood ; Urged for Good Taste; Washington, Nov. 2. :| The public's best assurance of * good taste and decency on the film , scVeen is self-policing by the pic-, ture industry, Arthur De Bra, di-' rector of community relations, for the Motion Picture Assn., told a conference on children Friday (29), Session was called by the General - Federation of Women's Clubs in connection with a program of com- bating juve delinquency; it drew reps from nearly 30 organizations. ; "Each year," said De Bra, "hundreds of motion pictures are produced---films for all types and taste.s-^and they offer a wide vari- ety of entertainment for th e familyi Some few of these films ■ may not be suitable for all of the • family all of the time. The answer is not censorship but intelligent selection of entertainment.'' He asserted that the Motion Picture Code "represents carefully devel- oped standards whicli through the ; years have won wide public accept- ance and approval." , Negotiations for a settlement of the Government's anti-trust action have completely broken down and, short of an Unexpected revival of dickerings, the 10-year 'litigation will start another round Monday (8), when the N. Y. federal statu- tory court reopens hearings in th« wake of the U. S. Supreme Court ruling. The Big Four—Paramount, 20,th-Fox, Metro and Warner* Bros. —called off their peace efforts thi« week in the face of an unsoftening demand by U. S. Attorney General Tom Clark that the companies re- strict themselves to solo showcasei; in- cities over 100,000 population. , Both Government and defense strategy point up a critical legal battle during the first two days oj the hearing, which may determin* the entire course of the new trial. Dept. of Justice has indicated to defendants that it will immediately ask the court for an order directing the majors to file a plan of divest- ment within one year. The plan, applicable both to partnership, and %vholly-owned houses, would list all theatres to be sold and how th« defendants propose to go about It,; It would also include any houses which the majors claim as-exempt- from divestiture requirffments. D of J^is expected to push th« argument that the Supreme Court ha.s ruled most theatre operations;' illegal. It will contend that no further, evidence is necessary as to particular situations and that, ths only step now needed isjmplemen- tation of the high court decision-by a plan of divestiture. Major company legalites aro priming to meet the Government on the. issue, griefs currently be- ing prepared argue the point at length and maintain that the D of J must bring in new evidence re- f eiTing: to each of the thousands of situations in the country. ;, If the three-judge court orders Introduction of evidence, it is be- lieved a long trial would follow, which) in turn, means added pres- sure on the Government to accede to a lighter settlement. Clark, it is thought, would then be on th* spot, partioularly with'a. new ad- - Continued 6n page S2) EINFELD SLATED TO START JAN. 1 AT 20TH Hollywood, Nov. 2. Charles Ginfeld, prez of the in- active ; Enterprise Productions, is set lo take over as ad-publicity veepce for 20th-Fox on a five-year contract starting Jan. 1. He will headquarter in New York. Einfeld's position is a new one, since .20th has never before had an ad-publicity veepeei As a re- sult, it's believed that no changes will be effected in the status of either publicity chief Han-y Brand or homeoffice ad-pub director Charles Schlaifer, Both are ex- pected to continue in their present. jobSi Einfeld would; concentrate on sales promotion. Twentieth thus becomes tho fourth company in the industry to assign a veepee rating to the ad- publicity chiefs job. Other three are Howard Dletz at Metro, Mort. Bl-umenstock at Warner Bros;, and Max Youngstein at Eagle Lion. Pau 1 Raibourn, a Paramount vee- pee, supervises that company'.s ad- pub operations as only a part of his other duties. Whether Einfeld's new job will mean a di:'<solution of Enterprise, of which David L. Loew is .board chairman, hasn't been deteimlned. Ent still has commitments to der I iver one .film to both Metro : and United Artists, biK will cancel Ihcm if tho company dissolves. Warfield's Added Stock Washington, Nov. 2. David Warfield, octegenarian member of Loew's ; board, hag ; boosted his stock holdings in tho company to a total of 24,510 shares of common. . Warfield's increased holdingf are due lo a legacy of 3,510 shalres from an unnamed estate.