Variety (Mar 1949)

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WeAneaivr, Marcli % 1949 Ediiils Frown on Pix TV Dualing' Suggested plan of having commercial television shows run siric. Iby-iide with regular film features \yiU be resisted by exliibitors and circuit operators who point out that attempts at commercial ■hdirtf »nd adflUns were sharply resisted by their customers Theatre ops believe patrons would raise a similar squawlc about commercial tele shows, no matter how watered down the plues •were. Patrons complained, they recalled, on the basis that thiy were shelling out good money to be entertained and that thev should not have to pay to see commercial advertising on the screen Most-«xhibs feel that when and if theatre tele becomes feasible on a mass circuit basis, it can only be used to pipe a few sports and special events into the theatres, such as a championship fight. PICTITRBS $1,500,000 Added to Dbtribs'Annual Payload By New lATSE Exchange Pact An add^d $1,500,000 atinually-f will be tagged onto the major dis- tributor payrolls as result of the new two-year union pact, covering 6,300 front and backroom emT pioyees in 32 exchange cities, wbiph will be signed Friday (4). Aftfe* three months of negotiations, settlement . of all details was reached yesterday (Tues.) between reps of Paramount, Metro, RKO, 20th-Fox,,Universal, Columbia and Republic, on. one hand, and the In- ternational Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. New pact grants an increase, of $4.50 per week with minimums established at $34 per week and scales ranging upwards to an average of approximately $75 per week for head bookers. Increases ■ are retroactive to Dec. 1, which will cost the companies a sum of Close to $500,000 in back pay to b^ Issued after March 19, when the new scales go into effect. Negotia- tions with United Artists, Mono- gram, Eagle Lion, Film Classics and National Screen Service will open shortly and are expected to follow the pattern set by the ma.ior companies. The companies' negotiating com- mittee Included Clarence Hill, 20th-Fox, chairman; C h a r 1 es O'Brien, Metro; C. J. Scollard, Paramount; A. A. Schubart, RKO; G. F. Malafronte, Universal; H. J. Kaufman,: Columbia; and Al Schil- ler, Republic. lATSE's committee consisted of Thomas J. Shea, as- sistant to the president; interna- tional v.p. Louise Wright and in- ternational rep Joseph , D. Basson. One on the Aisle Perth Amboy, March 1. , State Assemblyman John J; Brlxie of this city made a tri- umphant return to Reade's New Majestic theatre here at a recent ceremony, tp celebrate completion of i reKqodelllhg program. Now in his first term as a New Jersey legislator, Brlxie was an usher at the house for: four years. N J. ALLIED'S SQUAWK OVER REPS 16M DATES The running exhlb-distrib debate over where and when a company can book 16m showings of its prod- uct without unfair competition boiled over the pot again this week. This time Republic is on the receiv-^ Ing end of a hot letter of protest sent to the company by Edward Lachman, prez of New Jersey Al^ lied. Lachman is demanding that Rep cease Iweking 1,6m features in the Jersey .sector, claiming the practice is cutting into'35m grosses; ' According to the Allied com- plaint. Rep. has recently launched into selling narrowrgauge product to schools and parent-teacher or- ganizations in Elizabeth and the Oranges. Among films booked, it is claimed,' have . been several. Boy Rogers westerners and "Bill and Coo." Allied $ Survey Accents Fact That SPG Seeks to Nix leftist' Label Hit by a flock of resignations! last week, the eastern Screen I Publicists Guild is mapping a new j overall policy which will take it completely out of politics. Move, Vrhich reverses SPG's previous practice of taking either open or tacit stands on all general public i issues, is designed to erase the! label of "leftist' which has been | stuck on the Guild. In the future It will strictly confine itself to economic union questions. The policy switch came on the heels of a joint resignation by 13 members of ■ RKO's homeoffice flackery from SPG. Reason for the bowout was stated to be that ' SPG's political activity was detri- mental* to its union functioning. Slight, scattered sympathy with the resignations was expressed by other SPG dissidents, who are not, however, planning to make a sim- ilar move at the present time. Con- flicts within SPG have arisen sporadically due to the Guild's politicking, and several years ago . ■some; members attempted to have the American Newspaper Guild represent film publicists. Current- ly, nine of the resigned RKO ' publicists have joined with the sign . painters unioni AFL. SPG, meantime, is still trying to hammer out a new pact with the majors to- replace the one expired last September. Negotiations, .which have been in progress for over a month, have been dead- . locked over SPG's demand for a 25% wage hike although agreement on some. mitior issues has been reached. Another bargaining ses- sion is slated for late this week. Itttvak Wins. Award HAUywobd, March 1. screen Directors Guild an- nounced it.s third quarterly award, which goes to Anatole Litvak for his wrk in piloting "The Snake SOPEG Repels lATSE Thrust In Major H.O. s Screen Office and Professional Employees Guild, CIO, has com* out on top of a year-long jurisdio tional battle with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Em- ployees for control of the around 3.700 homeoffice whitecollarites. SOPEG put the finishing touches on its victory over its lATSE, rival. Local H-63, by cleaning up in^ collective bargaining elections at Metro, Paramount, RKO theatre servicing and Columbia last week. Local H-63 scored in only two plants with comparatively small staffs. Republic and De Luxe labs. Victory at the polls reestab- lished SOPEG as the major h.o. bargaining.'! agency in almost the same position it held wfaen lATSE tried to edge it out of the picture last summer. Local H-63, how- ever, managed to gain a foothold in a couple of SOPEG's former bailiwicks, United Artists and Re- public, aside from its' previous dominance at Warner Bros. Numerical strength of both unions puts SOPEG way out in front, representing a total of 2,700 work- ers to about 1,000 for Local H-63. SOPEG negotiations With the major companies will open shortly after the union receives its cer- tification from the National. Labor Relations Board. Although talks for a wage hike last year were conducted on a company-by-com- pany basis, it's likely that this time an industry committee will be set up to write on overall pact. 24 MORE HOT PRINTS RECOVERED BY THE FBI Coordinated drive of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and major companies to round up the raft of 16m prints strayed, lost or stolen from the thousands given to the armed services during the war brought further results this week. In a Brooklyn raid, FBI seized another 24 prints from a 16m dealer. Prints, including such tpp hits as "Song of Bernadette," "A Man to Remember" and "Bandit of Sherwood Forest," were turned ovei- to Sargoy & Stein, counsel for the companies. Meanwhile, two defendants in- dit'ted on charges of renting "hot" film in Brooklyn, were sentenced, in the Brooklyn Federal district I court Friday (25). Joseph Albino, truckd river, who pleaded guilty was hit with a $200 fine by Judge Harold M. Kennedy. Henry L, Brook, operator of the State Cam- era exchange, interposed a nolo contendere, and drew a $500 fine. At the time of their arraignment last June, U.S. Attorney George W. Percey told the court that the prints donated to the armed forces ; had been stolen from the Army I Servicing Center on Long Island. Some Renewed Amus. Stocks' Buying Cues Wall St.'s Confidence While bullish enthusiasm for motion picture stocks still is lack- ing, much in line with general sen- timent in WaQ Street on all shares, quiet 'accumulation of. better film issues has been in progress for the last few weeks. This buying forced Loew's into activity and a smart,; fractional gain last Friday (25). while the whole market was: slip- ping. .It also showed up in re- newed activity in Warner - Bros.' shares.' 'Paxamoxaii stock, however, rer mained unaffected in both price and volume of trading despite the announcement of the decree settle- ment; This development was probr ably discounted some weeks ago when shape of the Par decree was first foreshadowed. Much of this renewed Interest In film company shares appears to be predicated on three factors: (1) 'Belief that the amusement group as a whole has fairly much discounted the bad foreign devel- opments and any dip in the domes- tic boxoff ice. (2) . Discovery that some picture companies are not in as unfavor- able positioni particularly in the foreign field, as first feared, or"Sas current quotations would indicate. (3) . Possibility that the foreign market is likely to improve reve- nue-wise in the not too distant future. Some trade observers think that there are several signs that for- eign, biz may be shaping up better than in the last two years; One thing that Wall Street ap- parently is just becoming aware of is that the decline in theatre busi- ness is not generally as severe as believed by some. An inkling of how boxoff ice trade is running was pointed up over the Washington Birthday week with many theatres reporting about as strong: biz as a year ago. : .. Currently the Improved attitude toward film stocks is. tempered in financial circles by recurring re- ports about too many lukewarm to weak pictures now out on release. But the ability of most major film companies to; rebound with several strong boxoffice entries after one or two weakies is taken as a fa- vorable sign that production head- aches on the Coast are being straightened out. Buying in recent weeks has mainly centered in Loew's, Warr ner Bros., Paramount, Republic and RKO. Weather Man Hexes Mank Twentieth*Fox director Jo- seph L. Mankiewicz, attempt'^ ing to shoot scenes in New York last year for "Letter to Three Wives," was forced back to the Coast when continuous bad weather created a costly delay in his plans. - Mankiewicz tried . it; again : this week, arriving in N. Y.- Saturday (26) with Susan Hay- ward and a group of actoi^s and technicians, who were later joined by Richard Conte, for background scenes, for his up- coming "House of Strangers." . Weather was fine over the weekend but one of the worst ; days of the winter, complete with snow, slush and cloudy skies, greeted Mankiewicz when it came time to start work Monday (28). Right now, he is Sitting it out and waiting for the weather to break;. Expect Goldwyn To Follow Disney In Renewing RKO Samuel Goldwyn, is expected to follow Walt Disney in renewing his distribution pact with RKO. Disney signed a new contract last week for release of his next three films. Goldwyn deal, a one-year ticket with. options 'by the pro- ducer^ .'is up June .1 and will be taken Up. ' RKO is thus assured product from its two top indie producers, which will tend to reduce the prob- lem of a product shortage resulting from the long hiatus in large-scale production at the studio.: Slow- down began when Howard Hughes acquired control last summer. It is apparently coming to an end now and, with the indie product, should relieve the fears of RKO distribution execs. Two pix are now before the cam- eras, another will start shortly and 10 others are in preparation. This' still. doesn't compare with RKO's former schedule of production, but it will mean the busiest period at the studio since Hughes took over. Three Disney pix included in the new pact afe"Ichabod and Mr. Toad," "Cinderella'' and "Treasure Island." All will be in Technicolor. I "Cinderella," expected for ne^t Christmas, will be entirely in ani- mation, while "Treasure Island" will be Disney's first 100% live- action pic. "Ichabod," b e i n g prepped for September release, will be narrated by Bing Crosby, who will also sing three songs. Renewal of the deal marks the 13th year of RKO-Disney assobla- tion. Roy O. Disney, president of Walt Disney Productions, and Gun- ther Lessing, general counsel, were east last week for the inking^ Wil-. liam Levy, sales supervisor, and i Charles Levy, pub-ad chief, went to the studio this week for confabs on sales and promotional plans for the films. Ajllied Theatres, whose 10,000 members survey threw a round- house punch at so-called "sopliisti'* cated" pix, is now admitting that there's no such thing as an all-bad film; According to Allied's latest breakdown of its theatre poll, the exhib organization is drawing the lesson that one theatre's poison can be another's boxoffice meat. Only a few of the pix, evaluated by the nation's exhibs according to their ,bj0.. pull, were able to mark up heavy plus signs in all situations. Such films as "Fuller Brush Man" «nd "My Wild Irish Rose" were top drawers in small, medium and large towns. A major- ity of Hollywood'* product, how- ever, varies between wide business- limits depending upon the size of : town or the location of the theatre. Evaluating its own figures. Allied says "the moral would seem, to be.: that no.. piet-ure^. has . a guaranteed success .'for all exhibitors and very few pictures are. made that some exhibitor some place by some in- genious showmanship cannot turn into one of his more profitable en- gagements. By the same token, there were a scattered few theatres in unusual circumstances' who re- ported that the best business - for. them resulted in themes 'or sub- jects that were roundly condemned by the great rank and file of thea- tre patrons." "The Wistful Widow, of Wagon Gap," for example, ranked as the fifth best b.o. picture by exhibs in medium towns, and ninth in small towns but failed to make any dent in the big cities. "Abbot & Costello Meets Frankenstein" met the same response as did the "Babe Ruthv Story." On the other hand, "On An Island With You" ranked 10th in the big cities but •barely made a stir in either the small or me- dium towns. "Magic Town" simi- larly had its best play in the big cities while "All My Sons" went over best in medium towns^."Naked City," on the other hand, was strong in both large and-medium towns but was :mild in-the'rural areas.' ' ■ Taking Allied's own figures and statements, distrib execs are using them as ammunition in their cam- paign for more exhib showman- ship. . Although admitting there's no substitute for a good picture, distribs contend that theatre men can help push average product through "ingenious showmanship." ESCALATOR CLAUSE MAY HIT lOOG STORY BUY ^ With best-selling books ceasing to be an important source of screen material, 20th-Fox reversed the tide this week in a deal for "Cheaper by the Dozen." It paid $75,000 for screen rights, plus a maximum of another: $25,000 un- der an escalator clause based on book sales. With about 60,000 copies sold to date; indications are that the $100,000 ceiling will be reached. . Book, by Frank GUbreth, Jr., and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, is a story of the adventures in a family of 12 children, similar in some re- spects to "Cliicken Every Sunday" and"I Remember Mama." It was a: Book-of-the-Month Club co-selec- tion for January. Annie Laurie,: William.'i agented the deal in New York. JOHNSTON RE-ELECTED PRESIDENT OF AMPP Hollywood, March 1. Assn. of Motion Picture Pro- ducers re-elected Eric Johnston president and Y. Frank Freeman chairman of the : board. Annual meeting also elected B; B.' Kahane and L. K. Sidney as : veepees, Charles Boren as veepee in charge' of industrial relations, and James S. Howie as secretary. ' Members of the board of direc- tors: are: Columbia—Harry Cohn and B: B. Kahane; Metro-^Louis B; Mayer and L. K. Sidney; Para- mount^Y. Frank Freeman and Henry Ginsberg; Republic—Her- bert Yates and Allan Wilson; 20th- Fox—Joseph M. Schenck and Fred Meyer; Universal - Internationale Leo Spitz and Edward Muhl; War- ners^--Jack L. Warner and Carrol Sax. . Under an amendment of the by- laws, each studio will be repre- sented by two members of the board of directors,: instead :of one as Under the old rules. 3 or 4 Per Month For M-G Release William F. Rodgers, Metro's dis- tribution veepee, believes the film market is ready to absorb product at a faster rate, particularly the" type pix turned out by his home lot. Just returned from M-G's stu- dio huddles, Rodgers told Variety that the company "has no thoufiht of building up- a film backlog" in; announcing a speedup in produc- tion of pix. Although he has no fixed number of releases in mind for the year, Rodgers plans to get three-to-four films moving to the theatres monthly. "We will release films as fast as the "studio gets them to us." Rodgers said. "Of course, before releasing them we must first pre»- pare a publicity buildup for proper ■ penetration. But there won't ^ be any holding back on ftlmsfor back- log purposes." Rodgers does not see the public hankering for any particular type of film and is inclined to scout attempts to evaluate the appeal of pix on the basis of bracketing. "The I public wants any film that is highly.. ] entertaining. It has always been I that way and it still is," M-G's sales topper declared, I Metro is extending its sale of j pix on flat rentals in certain small I situations. Rodgers said. Company I advised Col. H. A. Cole's Allied I committee that it had no objec- itions, in many cases, of selling flatsi I However, M-G will not commit it- ' self to sell flats in the future as a matter of policy. "If we did that, We would be putting back selling , practices 15 years," Rodders de- I clared.