Variety (Mar 1949)

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NEW CROUP (NOT BLOCK) BOOKING Si Fabian Syndicate Talking To A. W. KeHy (Chaplin) on UA Buy B.O. Cut No Help Hollywood, March 1, In line with a disclosure by Audience Research Institute last week that average adniis- u\on prices during January reached an alltime high of 48V^c- (including taxes), was a feport to National Theiatre execs in convention here last week, on experiments with ad- mish cutting. Herb Sobottka, of NT's Evergreen circuit, reported the conclusion that present prices should be maintained. He said: that houses in his northwest territory discovei-ed when they tried trimming the ;b.o. levy that they only suffer- ed a decrease in gross without any change in' attendance. ■: mmi DEiiLS; Opeys Indies Via WB Release Si Fabian was reported talking with, Arthur W. Kelly this week on tourchase by a syndicate headed bv Fabian of United Artists. Kelly, exec V.p. of,UA, has long been a close friehd^and representative of Charles Ghaplin, who as of tomor- row (Thursday) acquires an option on the holdings in UA of his part- ner in the company, Mary. Pick- ford. Involved in the deal with Pa- Wail aire Ted Gamble, James E. Coston and a group of other ex- hibs. They are interested in acquir- ing the company as a distribution outlet for pix to be made coopera- tively by the exhibs, plus whatever other regular production is avail- able. UA would be operated on a modification of the old First Na- tional lines. Miss Pickford, in an exchange of options with Chaplin, has held rights during the past 30 days to acquire his interest.' ' With her option expiring tonight,' there has been no evidence during the past couple weeks, during which time she has been to New York, that she has found any takers, Fabianj who returned to his New York office from Florida over the weekendj has been awaiting the pe- riod when Chaplin held the options. This will enable him to buy all the shares. Miss Pickford has been in- terested in staying in UA and (Continued on page 24) MPAA Blocks Those Careless Downbeat Pix Rumors Via Direct Mail . : Columnists, magazine writers and radio gossipers are no longer being allowed to get away with off- hand remarks that film attendance has seriously declined or isn!t good. In line with the new indus^ try policy of reversing the down; beat p.sychology months?, writers being called to task for "misstating i liam Saroyan play, j fact" when they indicate a serious i Cagney-starring pix to be pro- ; b.o. slump. ■ . > . I duccd'under the Warner banner. Motion Picture Assn. of America | (C ontinued on page 2 4) flacks are carefully ogling the. pub- \ ,^ _ «,-,->,». a<< lie prints and monitoring the radio ; fOF fllRTIS* OPTION ON commentators for such cracks re- J"*^ tURlW W lIVll VII garding the biz. They are'promptly po.sted a note pointing out that of- ficial industry statistics, prepared by the MPAA's research depart- ment, indicate film rentals are down only 8?^% from the alltime peak year of 1946, and are still (Continued on page 24) • Hollywood, March 1. James Cagney is going back to the Warner Bros, lot ,to star in three pictures under a regular ac- tor's pact. At the same time, War- ners completed another deal with William Cagney, Cagney Produc- tions prexy, for the filming of three pictures for WB release. At least one of this trio..will star James | Cagney in "A Lion in the Streets." i from the novel by Adria Locke [ Langley. 1 Negotiations between the Cag-; neys and Warners broke oK last, year wlien the brothers became in-; volved in a dispute with : United j Artists over release of "The Time; of Your Life." James Cagney. at j the time, was to star in 10 films | which he would have made for ■ A new form of selling pix has ci'opped up as an offshoot of the Government anti-trust suit which both is and isn't the old, now ruled- out, block-booking. New • method is generally being tagged group- booking as distinguished from the outlawed block-booking. The big difference is the fixing of a sepa- rate price-tag on each pic in; the group plus careful .wording on'con- tracts- aimed at avoiding any charge that one pic is conditioned on an- other. Columbia has been following this system for the bulk of its product for a number of months: Eagle Lion has just swung into the same sort. of . selling with a package of 18 films. Each of EL's pix are indi- vidually priced and the exhib has the right of: buying a lesser num' ber if he so indicates. On the films which have not been trade- shown, a 20% cancellation privi- lege is granted; Number of other companies are considering the same sort of .sell- ing on lesser product. The method has been given Government sanc- tion In- the new Paramount consent decree which provides that if the distrib grants a license for more than a single feature, exhib has a : (Continued on page 18) New Par Prod.-Distrib Co. Looms As Best Financed Outfit in H wood Cue to Goldenson If there are still any doubts in the trade as to who will head up the new Paramount theatre company, Barney Bala- ban. Par's pre/., dropped the final tipoif at a 21 club lunch- eon tendered Charles M. Rea- gan, former distrib veepee, last Thursday (24). Explain- ing his hopes for the new pro- duction-distribution company in an address to the Para- mount execs at the affair, Bal- aban turned to Leonard Gold- enson, current theatre chief, and said: , "I am even hoping that Lenny will buy our pic- tures." Settlement officially con- firms that Balaban will head tlie studio outfit. There has been no official word on the identity of the theatre com- pany's topper. . 20th-Fox Speeds Own Settlement Rank Cuts 2 Lots; Ms Labor Orgs ■ London, March Iv.r, J. Arthur Rank's closiiig of his Gainsbbi-ough and Shepherds Bush studios within the next few weeks^ thus axing some 800 workers, fur- ther ehlphasizes the British film industry crisis. Staff notices will of the past 18 ! Warners in return for the company j be is.sued Friday (4) and complete and editors are I handling his filmization of tlie Wil-1 shutdown is scheduled to become ' Talks are already under way be- I tween 20th-Fox and the Dept. of ! Justice towards settlement of the I Government anti-trust suit. With- I out: awaiting official announcement I of the Paramount consent decree, these discussions were started sev- eral weeks back, it has now been learned Carrying the brimt for 20th in peace chats is Otto E. KoegeJ. general counsel for the company, and member of the. firm of Dwighl, Harris. Koegel & Cas- key. ■ Koegel accompanied Spyros Skouras, 20th'jj president, to the Coast, last week to huddle with Cliarles P. Skouras ♦ When-; Barney Balaban takes over the skipper's job in the neW; Paramount production-distribution ' company, that studio will prob* ably be the best'rheeled lot so far, as cash and liquid assets are con-* cerned of any production unit in ' Hollywood. While the plan of reorganization has yet to be aired, all the signs indicate that the new \ outfit wiU be given a terrific cash scndoff. In this respect, Par is following the:'same strategy as the;' RKO plan which involves a trans- fer of $10,000,000 in cash from the theatre cii'cuit to the prod-distrib ■ ■unit. ■: - Besides some $90,000,000 in clU'-' rent assets in the parent company's till—rbulk of which probably goes, to. the ; studio—rthere is an addi- : tional $30,000,000 in credits and easily convertible assets which will ; wind up on the studio side of the lodger when the split is finalized. Included is DuMont television lab stock to which Par has fixed a price of .$7,000,000; the Paramount : homeolTice building on whicli the company is now., negotiating- for .: $12,000,000 ,as a sale price; and some $12,500,000 in bank credits which the theatre unit will; guarantee. The: $12,500,000 credit tO the production company is understood ; (Continued on page 61) COLUMBIA PREXY EAST ON IMPORTANT CO. BIZ Significant discussions of Colum- bia's policies, plans and financial | setup are expected to take place at | series of general homeoffice con-1 ferences in New York this week, | Harry Gohn, company prexy, flew cast for the sessions, as did Mendel | Silberberg, Col's general counsel. | Further indication of important, developments in the company's af-1 fairs was the disclosure that Ar- KORDA'S FILM FOR U.S. Joseph Curtis, son of Columbia veepee Jack Cohn and account exec at the Weiss & Geller ad agency. N. Ym has purchased a 30-day op- tion from Sir Alexander . Kord a on the British p'roducer^s '"Winslow Boy," Curtis has been huddling with various distribs to obtain a western hemisphere release for the film and it may go to Eagle Lion or United Artists. In the arrangement entered into between Curtis and . Morris Hel- prin, Korda's U. S. rep, Curtis has the right to acquire a seven-year lease on the film for $600,000 TTo is endeavoring to swing a deal with a U. S. distrib to advance tliis quantity of trozen British (£12,5,- effective in-three weeks. In an official statement the Rank Organization says that concentra- tion of production at its Denham and Pinewood studios will result in a "substiHitial cut of overhead" as well as "paring production ex- ecutives on all levels." Despite economies. Rank stated, costs are still too high to justify spreading i tional Theatres, and his legal ad-! I visers on proposed terms. Twentl-' j cth's prez and Koegel are due back 1 east this week when the latter re-i hews his DC talks, i , . Company ; wants peace terms, I which M'ould be unlike those of Par I I and RKO in' that it would be. per- mitted to retain an integrated set-1 1 up. By so doing, 20th could op- J j erate a substantial number of the-1 . .. t atres. Industry insiders are dubi-1 a program over so many studios. | ous that the D of J would depart Ihe new policy, he added, is a,step | ft-om the formula hit upon in the (Continued on page 20) ' Par-RKO decrees. National Boxoffice Survey Biz Off Post-Holiday—'Smith,' 'Joan,' 'Command,'! 'Wives,' 'O'Flynn,' 'Ships,' 'Hamlet' Pace Field | A'Stor week, "Sun Comes Up" | (M-CjI, trim in Detroit, is terrific in [ Philly where boosted by Danny | Kaye tfnstage, "Faimly ■' Honey-; moon" (U) teed ofT nicely at N. Y. i Kramer's Negro Theme Pic May Outrace^ fetltl 20th and deRoeteont With anti-Semitism explored by j Hollywood films during the past ' ccuple. years. ^949 is definitely lin- 1 ing: up as the year of the JNre.gro i problem pic. Announcement last I weelc by Stanley Kramer that his, I Screen Plays. Inc.. indie unit had ; I purchased rights to "Home of the I Brajfc" and would switch it from a Jewish to a Negro angle made the third such film to go into work currentl.v. Already on the agenda and well under way Ai-e, "Pinky,'' being pro- (Continued on page 18) Natural i-eaction from big holi- day week trade (Washington's Birtliday) is in evidence this stanza in most key Cities covered by i VARfETY. Strong fare, however, is holding up well while weaker pix,:i a,5 noted recently, are being let- , -- — „ —,Music Hall iattd'is doing well m 000) funds to him, or to advan.ce i ,ione. by-too many patrons; . fWashirigt6n. ''Griss Cross" (U) is part in s(eriing and part in dollars. | j,^^ boxoffice champ is "Whis- [ sturdy in Boston. , ; Curtis' option became effective jpering Smith" (Par), which climbed "Faisan" is playing humerous nold Grant and Henrv Grown, who \ yesterday (Tuesdayi and runs pi-.^e on first week out on i FoK-Wesl Coast and Warner spots. wereelectUtothrboaiVdUst^^^ "itf-' rolca.e last stanza. It is pace-1 It made a record in L. A , is strong and sat in on their initial session i ^^^^^ ""^^ outright lease al a j,, two keys, biz in others > in Cleveland, smash in Denver and Monday (28) had aEreed to serve .""^ not consider a i j.aneing from sturdy to gieat. ! fine in Philly. Film is first foreign for only one year. The contribu- tions they can make as reprcsenl- ;' (Continued on page 161 Picture, whicli about a month, returning nl'ter tlie Anfilo-.\)\iorican Film Council ses sions in Waahinglon April 21-23. Cowdin Flies Across ect Mayer-Schenck Pact Powwows Soon Louis B. Mayer, Metro's studio expected to reopen talks the h.o. execs on a renewal M his employment contract when ne arrives Monday (7). Mayer., , ,, , . his wife, and studio publicitv head do" over the weekend Howard Strickling shove off from i to the Contment. M ""^^ the weekend. .™^5'ers present ticket expires AUg. 31 Both he and Nicholas M. achenck, Metro's prez, have had preliminary talks on renewals tevm- Schenck's terminates Dec. 31. I parti^cipation deal y^""-. -joan of Arc" (RKO) managed got top reviews m England, stai s .^^^ ^^^^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^ j.^^. ^^^^^^ \\-eek in a row whilg "Command Decision'^ (]Vi-G) is third. Foui-tb Letter To Threie Robert Donat, Sir Cedric Hard wicke and Margaret Leighton Korda is due in the U. S. March | 18 irom England and .ill be ^^^'^ ^"^Z^^^^^^,^^,, o'F.ynn (U ) is slibwing enough to. grab fifth 1 place.- Others in the Big Eigiit, in j,order of strength, are "Down To ■j Sqa ih^ ShiiJs" (20th),."Hamlet" (U), and "Enchantment" (RKO). Failure ., ,. 1 of "Ships" to fare better currently J. Cheever Cowdin. Lniversal s apparent major disappoint- board chairman, planed for Lpn-: en route . Cowdin is ex-1 pocted to huddle with J. Arthur men I. Best in runner-up category arc "Red Shoes" (EL\ "Wake oi Red Witch" (Rep), "Dear To Aly Heart British producer wjho is the ; ^^^^^ .,g^^^^ p.^,. ■ "Paisan" (Indict. (20th) and of contract Rank, j largest stockholder of V. ] purpose of trip, however, is per ^ comer on ba,sis production, outside of Britishers, | I io land-in Variety's weekly survey ! as a big moneymaker. Another j smash foreign pic this session i.s : "Symphonie Pastorale," French-' i .macle. Playing ihainly in small arty \ Ihoatres, picture is fine in 10th , Fn.sco week, nice in Denver, strong I m Washington, solid in N. Y. ih j 24ih standi and good on 10th L. A. j round. ' j "Red Pony" (Rep) looks Solid in 1 Portland. Ore. "Dear Secretary" I - lUA) Shanes robust in Minneapolis. ■ "Chicken Every Sunday" (20th); i while not doing so well in most ! : keys this week, is nice in Pitts- ! burgh and Louisville. "Boy With I [Green Hair" (RKO) is landing fine' (j( week in Buffalo. Traflc Mai'i! RoBistereil r(H-\T)):ii m sun,; sh.tku.m.xn I'liblMii-il IVwKly bj> VAKIKTV, ln<^. SUl. .Silverman,. Fresiilent * 164 West 40tli St., .S-cw VolU 19. N ? II»U.VW<HMI 3H «31] Wlcca .Street WaKhhiKioii 4 : ISit NuUoiinl freHs null<1ln| .- ClileHfcn I 5B0 No.- lSI^cUiKnn Ave, Lwiillaii WC3 8 Si. Martin's )■!.• 'I'nitnlgar Sq. St"B.«!CniPTION Annofif,,.... . JIO' , .rorelsn;* i.., $11 Siingle Copies.,.'........ ... .SS Cents Vol.173 m *(>> No. 12 INDEX Bills 5,5 Chatter 62 Film Reviews 8 House Reviews .. i v... i.. 56 Inside Legit .. .:•... *....; 58 Inside Music 44 Inside Pictures ..... ,... < 16 Inside Ratlio 36 Inside Television ....... i 30 Intemational 15 Legitimate ...... . .... 57 Literati -61 Music 41 New .\cts 00 Nigl-il Club Reviews .... 54 Obituaries . . . , , :...,.... 63 OrchcsUas .. •. 41 Pictures ....... > 3 Radio 25 Radio Reviews 28 Records 44 Frank Scully ,........... 61 Television ..... 29 Television Reviews 34 Unit Review 1 ...... •. •- 56 Vaudeville 52 n.\iK\- v\Rii-)'r» (PiiblisliDd In Hollj-woocl bjr n.Tllv V:irU-l.i-. I.lfl.) \ 115 a yeai-—$10 l''ore!Bn