Variety (February 1950)

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PICTURES WcdneBday, Febmaiy ly 1950 Devaluation' overseas, writeoffs f of star contracts (particularly that | of Deaiina Durbin) and the speed- tip of amortization tables blasted j Universal's hopes of emerging into | the black in fiscal 1949. Registev- Ing in the red^nk for its second yeaCv U shows a Ipss of $1,125,851 for . the 12 months ended Oct. 29, against deeper crimson of $3,162,- 812 for the preceding senmster* Special developments beyond its ^ control and not the b.o. quality; of celluloid saddled the compahy’s ■ net'- Understood that; in winding up Miss Durbin’s employment; coh^ tract, which still had three piJt to go, U laid out Some $4p0;ii)00: En- tire . amount attributed to special writeoffs in the cphipany statement came to $500,000. Another $250]- 000 setback was suffered in the Last quarter of fiscal ’49 because of devaluation of foreign currehcies. As a repercussion of the devalu- ation, U aisp shifted its amortiza- tion table by upping to 80% the amount of negative costs absorbed by the domestic market. Previously, fOrelgn remittances todk up 25% of the slack; domestic, 75%* Un- derstood that U lost over $600,000 because of the change in amortiza- tion tables. Gross revenues dwindled slightly during the year to a total of $56;- 738,335, against 1948’s total pf.$57,- 989,307. Amortization of film costs amounted to $39,547,382, compared with $42,739,166 in the previbus year, while net per-share losSvtbted to $1.45, against $3.59. At the Same time, current and working assets tapered to $35,315,- 438, matched to 1948’s $40,830,070, Statemeht showed a decline in the funded debt of oVer $5,000,000, the new figure amounting to $11,- 033,833^ As: for net working capir tal, it slid to:. $25,236,592 f)’o n $32,897,077, maiply because $4- 750,006 was paid pn bank loans during the year and certain other debts were diminished. During the 12 months, company film inventory climbed to $22,910.- 941 from $20,016,396. Statement also pointed out that studio had effected economies in cost of films . , (Continued on page 18) 0-8 OptimisnA ? ' For its first quarter of the current fiscal year, starting in 'November, Universal has about broken even on its rental take agai nst running ekp^nses plus amortization of its negative costs. One promising factor is the : fabt that It completed liq- uidatioii Of expensive product made in 1948 and released dur- ing . eSrly '49. Writeoffs on these features were wound up in january, '50. Company is studying wheth- er tb seek further credits bn a revolving productibri Iban now reduced to $6^000,000, with the decision hinging on revenues for the next cbiiple of months. Prbd[UctiDh hut for the present year is expected to be upped several dollars over that of 1949, Continued Irom page 1 ran into the seasonal, pre-Christ^ mas lull. Matthew Fox, Uni versa! voenee and board chairman of UnitOd World. Pictures, U's subsid, remains as a director and veepee of the company during the coming year, proxy statemeht discloses. At (he same time, Fox’s pay is under $25,- 000, since he was not listed by the proxy among thpse officers receiv- ing ip excess of that amount. Fox’s resignation has been widely ru- mored because of his activity as , director of an exclusive purchas- ing agency in the U. S. for the new Indonesian, republic. Pay cuts which continued during 1949 kept top-brass salaries at a low figure. Nate J, Blumberg, cbm- pany prez, arid J. Cheever Cowdih, who recently exited as board chair- man, received $84,750 each. Wil- liam A, Scully, distribution veepee, took $69,506, While Charle.s D, Frutzmriri, recently resigned vec- pee arid general counsel, drew $56,- 050. yeepee ,Tohn J. Q’Cohnor vvas paid $,45,5.50. Total outlay to diroo- tors and pificer^ totalled $653,379. : Four new directors are on the list for voting by stbckholders at the .aririual meet, March 8. They are Leon Goldberg, hew veepep arid treasurer of the coiripariy; Ah bert A. Garthwaite, prez of I^ec Rubber & Tire Gorp of Consho- hocken, Pa.; R. W* Dee, prez of Johns-Manville Corp„: arid Frankl.i?i Neviiis, partner in the law firm of Nevius, Brett & Kellogg. Gbldberg and Lea were recently elected to the board, while Garthwaite and Nevius have yet to qualify. .Other directors, all up for ro- electiori, are Blumberg, O’Goiinor, Fox, Robert S. Benjamin/. Patil Gi Brown, Preston Davie, William J, Geririah, J. Arthur Rank, B’vdd Rogers, Daniel M. Sheaffer and C. I. Wobdhairi-Siriith. Largest stf)ck* holder arriong the group is still Rank, with 134,375 shares of com- mon. Brown is second with 29,000 .shares. Washington, Jan. 31; Abram F. Myers, general epun- sel and' board’ dhairman of Na- tional Allied, is expected to take the lead in Inaugurating a new arbitration system for the film in- dustry. A move on h is part would represent a drastic change in Al- lied’s stance on arbitration since that organization previously has al- ways opposed such a system. ■ Myers, if Is reported,* will.send out a call for exhib and distrib [ leaders to meet in Washington dur- ! irig February to draft a new arbi- tration system. Old setup died at the end of 1949 when the majors withdrew theii* financial Support froni the American Arbitration Assn. It is expected that the AAA ! will be invited to adiriinister any hew system which would evolve I from the AlliediTsponsored qon- fclaye.,- f Meanwhile, in New York, it ^ { reported thet the Theatre Owners ' bf America Is also pfepafed' to I back a new arbitfatipn formula. TO A Is ready to issue an invitation to all branches of the industry to huddle and agree on arbitration as a way of Ironing disputes on trade practices, clearances and runs. I If the two major theatre groups join iri. such a proposal, its chances of acceptance by the majors will be I substantial. It Is thought that the Motion Picture Assn, of America will also get behind the move in I the interests of softening exhib- distrib tiffs. $28,000,006 B.O. Decline Washington, Jail. 31. Natibh's film theatres did slight- ly over $1;500,060,000 at the box- office, in 1949, bn the basis of tax receipts for the first II mbhlhs of the year plus a semi-official esti- mate of. wh^ 12th month^s tax; from the 20% admissions levy will; be,-■ V ■ . } On an bverail basis, the Goverp- rrient will get about $375,060,060 in admissions taXes for the calen- dar year 1949. It is estimated that :80% or a little belter ;is attributed to pix. Four-fifths of the admis- sions tax is thus 2o% of. $1,500,- 606,006. The remainder of the tax cbmes from a wide variety of othei* amusements .such ak legit, opera, professional arid: amateur sports, dancehalls, swimming pools, cir- eiises/.etc. / if the estimate holds true when the, 12th mbnth’s tak returns are reported, it wilb mean that Uncle Sam's take from amusements fell by nriore than $7,000,000 from his earnings ; during calendar 1948. The decline at film . boxoffices Would be approximately $28,000,- 600.\- The skid in night spots waS; rela- tively much sharper than; in gen^ eral. amusements. On the basis of il inoriths of tax receipts, plus an estimate for the 12th month, the nation's night spots subject to the 20% bite on: the tab did a gross business (exclusive of tax) anibunt^ ihg tb a little under $218,600,000. In 1948, their tax reflected a gross fif ,$252,666,060. The Deceniber tax receipts, geri- erally reflecting November busi- ness, showed an admissions tax take of $33,513,950 for the month. This was about $800,000 short of | the preceding niontb and more /than $4,360,000 behind, receipts fbr December, 1948. Nitery tax . for the month was $3,569,086, about $100,000 behind the previous month and a big $1,- 100,000 short of the figure for De- ceinber, 1948. Broadway, whose entertainment habits often differ from those of the nation as a whole, went off on a tangent again B.O. Fhetuated in Average weekly admissions at the nation's film theatres fluclti-. ated. far more during: 1949 than they did during the preceding yeai:, according to estimates of Audience Research, Ihc./released this week; Following are estiiiiates of the number of tickets sold during the two years by: quarters: 1948 1949 1st Quarter 2d; “ 3d “ 4th December «. k • t • •' 4 •- • • » V t • •• 72.900.000 66 . 200.000 66.400.000 65.600.000 59,200,000 65,800,006 66.500.000 66.806.000 58,700,600 52,500,000 Political^ A jual feature package on pblitlcal careers started inakr ing the rounds of theatres as a combo this week. poUble- hill consists of '-The Roosevelt Story” and “Fame Is the Spur," ■ opening this week in four New York nabe houses. Former pic details the life Of President Franklin D. Robsef yelf while the latter, a British- made opus, is a fictiohalized account of the career of the late British Prime : Minister, Ramsay MacDonald. ^ Dualer will be distributed nationally by Distinguished. Films, which oWris the “Roose- velt" 'film. It is handling “Fame" for Expert Films, which bought U. S, rights from J- Arthur Raiik. Pack- age is playing at the Beacon, Riviera, City and Trans-Lux theatres,, 4“ Era of heavy /writeoffs on costly film product which miss the box- office: target appeared this week to be nearing the curtains/ End of the readlustment era was signalled by Metro's annual repbrt for fiscal 1949 .(ended Aug. .31), which showed a solid profit fbr the final quarter of that year, MrG’s surprising showing follows a similar big windup quarter by Warner Bros, in its . statement: of several weeks ago.',.; ■.// Metro's annual . net cariie to $6,744,761, compared to $5,309,659 bf the previous year. Profits in the final quarter amounted to $1,583;^ 988 as aghinst $580,596 for the com- parative three months bf 1948. The big advance in the final quarter demonstrates that the company Was not forced to go into year-end Writeoffs of films which failed to nfake the grade during the 12 months. Heretofore, Metro, like other majors, has taken stock at the end of the year and knocked off part of they profits because of h.o. weaWes. industry noted the identical phenoinerion when Warners aired its '49 profit. WB more than doubled its final quarter take In a comparison of '49 With '48. Its Windup three months in 1949 came ; to $3,103,534 against $1,516,000 for j the previous year's comparable stretch. In Warner's case, also, re/ I adjusted amortization tables avoid- i ed the necessity of heavy writeoffs j at the year’s end. In airing its 1949 take, Metro Projected plans of 20th-Fox prez ajso disclosed that its kickoff, quar- , ^ ^ Spyros P; Skouras for a boost in , ter for ’50 continues to show im- Decewber7ax%o»t- The of annual releases dur- Proyemenl, For the 12 weeks end- admissions bite for MaSStairThX* opening a potential ma- , , - - — .... a ' j®*' distrihution setup to them. ^ eluded, however, in the estimate Istfn While the 20th studios Vili in. was $607,229 profit on the sale of The ’ eabarSs t^^med h[ f taT rf' home-lot production, the Ihdatre Interests. Per-share earn $430,800{*^hich Fett^^^ 0? able tp turn ■ *>'■ vipus mbnth by a fat $100,000. Tri;” itne number ot annual releases dur- p^vvcuienu ror ine iz weeKs enu- xfo,JvrtiSf’e I ^h® next few years Is expected | :Nov. 24, M-G netted $1,652,649 help ease the way of indie prb- j against $1,021,156 for the equiva- ducers by opening a potential ma-i^®^^ period of fiscal '49. In- By Govt on U In Tax Rebate Universars claim/ against the U, S. Treasury dept, for tax re- ' bates bn the years 1943-45 have been settled with the Government for $2,300,000. Of that sum, $1,- :15p.600 in the form of Goyernment bphds will be transferred to U’s surplus during the current fiscal year after pfeliminary audits by the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Remaining $1,150,000 goes to the Government in the form of interr est due it at the rate of 6% dii an ,:estimated $4,500,000 which U with- held during the ’43-'45 stietch in the Course oi’ the dispute. Company bought Government hbrids with the withheld funds, but bf which it collected regular interest paid by the Treasury on this type of bond issue. iBonds in the sum of $4,500,000, plus the interest is be- ing surrenaered to the Treasury dept.' ' ings were ;32c. against 20c. in the (Coritinued bn page 24) Rmk'S'Good Time Giri In FC pistrib Setup ^ In « thre^cornered_ ddaV Flto Classics has been handed the dis- [company execs emphasized they tribution rights to J. Arthur Rank's'i would not be interested in any co- “Gobd Time Girl,” first pic of the | financing deals with indies. “If British film-maker to be handled i that,'' one 20th s epnUnued . from page 5 J but the desired number bf pictures on its own. Thus, it will have to accept indie product to rtieet its releasing goal. Twentieth; despite the heed for [ more pictures, will, not return to /production bf Ibw-budgeters and [ tainment they do buy in a greater quantity than ever before is mo- tion pictures." Veepee Al Lichtirian spotlighted. thp problem with even greater em^ ^ _ phasis, declaring it Was a reflectioii by the U. S, company. FG has j^ake the extra films ourselves^'i the best pictures were being sold taken a straight distribution pact j Present plans call for an average-to only a small percentage of the from Edward Kingsley's Expert i pictures a year f.vpm indies, I public. “There was a lime wh®n Pictures after the latter: firm cibsed [ which will be added to the 30, that [eny picture possessing merit coujd with Rank for seven-year rights i ^Oth expects to produce in 1950, [not fail at the boxoffiee,” he said, to the Jean/ Kcnt-Flbra Robsbn ; 30-36 in 1951 and 36-46 in i“^hy? Because the motion , pic- starrer. Kingsley picked iip . the j ^^^2. j tUre theatre had a steady patron- pic by tuming over to Rank an uri- I In divulging the upped releis- i ®Se, almost irrespective of the at disclosed sum in frozen sterling. | ing proposal at 20th’s showmanship ' fraction;” /What has happehed to On a previous deal, Kingsl^^^ jjg meet in New York last week, i steady patronage should be distributing the Britisher’s “Fame ' Skouras said the 30 to 36 pictures t ascertained immediately, he em- Is the Spur.’’ Film will be released for this year, including ' Pbasized. “If we are to be sue- by FG within 90 days. When first released in Britain several years back It kicked up something of a fuss because of its subject matter and strong treatment. Film was originally Slated/ for Universal release in this country. Production Code Adniinistratiori, hbweyer, posed objections .both to title and content/ It was consigned I the indie product, will cost about (Continued on page 18) Ga/Censor M cessful,” he added, . “we must find the . cause. for the apparent Iridif- ferenee bn/the part of: too many people towards riiotion pictures/.' Veepee Charles Einfeld, declar- ing business in 1950. can be as gbod as or better than it was iri 1949, noted the public may have $107,00.6,000,000 for ‘'discretion- ary spending’t this year, of which only one element is the $2,800,- Atlaiita, Jan. : 31; Georgia General Assembly, now iri session here, will sobn pass bn bill to create a state board of cen- 'sorship. Senate’s State of the Re- to the company bins until Kingsley public Committee last Week gave ■ nnA rtnrt . . bought th® rights on option. its approval to such a measure arid i going out to ®x-GIs — it is now headed for action on, Industry BracKen Pmiudi^S- juris.j Stamng for Indie .rlcal »nd stage' perfomancis. Holly wood, Jan. 31. 1;-^^ensorship measure. Introduced ' ^il ‘ Eddie Bracken will double as as- ^en. ^Gus Stark, of Monroe, that the money will be therC--but sbeiate producer and star in “750 three-man board, it won't come to you as freely as ...... with it; You're going Ricardo Montalban wiii play the * , violations at the cen- homeoHlce; attended by circuiFad bullfighter, with Jack Cummings as three pictures, producer, .stalling in Septembeiv financial backing. publicity representatives.