Variety (March 1956)

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Wednesday, March 7, 1956 UAniETif PICTVnGS EXHIBS TIRE OF COSTLY ‘TOYS’ Columbia Hatching Sales Switch Columbia appears jockeying to pull a major switch in sales policy, with the specifics to be worked out at a Chicago meeting opening Sunday (11),. Participating will be key personnel from the homeoffice distribution and ad-pub departments, domestic division and branch managers and, marking a “first’' for a Colum¬ bia conclave, exploitation reps in the field. Abe Montague, general sales manager, is belling the session as the “most important” in company’s history, and “of the upmost importance not only to our own organization but to the exhibitors of the country as well.” Montague held back on further details but it’s expected the plan he has in mind places a greater accent on localized promotion and selling, with the bally merchants in the grass roots teaming more closely with the local exchanges. Lensers Rap Goldwyn Jr.; Threaten 'Boycott’ on Reduced Staff (or Cuba Hollywood, March 6. IATSE cameramen’s local 659 has threatened to institute a “boycott” against Samuel Goldwyn Jr., pro¬ ducer of “The Sharkfighters,” which will be shot in Cuba, charg¬ ing he isn't taking sufficient tech¬ nicians from Hollywood with him. The boycott threat was made by the local's business agent, Herb Alter, who said the lensers would also ask the AFL Hollywood Film Council, which has a stand against so-called “runaway” production, to do the same thing. . Aller demanded that Goldwyn ap¬ pear before the union’s exec board in two weeks Jo explain his posi¬ tion. He said that jtesterday he no¬ tified Clem Beauchamp, Goldwyn’s production manager, of the union stand, and that Beauchamp told him that he felt it was “like shoot¬ ing a picture in Mexico.” This didn’t appease Aller, who declared many features shot south of ^he border are with Mexican financing, but that Goldwyn’s is “100% Amer¬ ican-financed.” In any event, he added caustically, Mexico is a ha¬ ven for “runaway” producers and not a good comparison. Goldwyn is taking two Hollywood cameramen with him to Cuba, but Aller says his local wants a mini¬ mum of four lensers from here. “We don’t object if he picks up some crew members in Cuba, but we insist bn certain basic crew re¬ quirements being filled here ” he stated. “This is all wrong. Here is a young man entering the picture business and the first thing he figures out is how to beat the American labor standard,” observed Aller. New RKO’s Campaign For ‘Conqueror’ Heavily Tied To Parent Mutual Radio Web RKO has just completed its first “under new management” exploi¬ tation campaign for “The Conquer¬ or,” a radio-tv-newspaper effort that may set a pattern for future high-budgeted releases from the studio. The campaign, which in¬ volved extensive use of the pa¬ rent RKO Teleradio's Mutual ra¬ dio network, is also to be offered as a “package” -campaign to other studios. > Heaviest concentration in the exploitation department was cen¬ tered on Mutual, which starting on Jan. 1. plugged the picture not only in terms of spot announce¬ ments, but with five-minute, 10- mmute and one half-hour shows comprising interviews and editor¬ ial matter on the picture. Blowpff was the half-hour special from Hollywood last Thursday (23), with John Wayne and the rest of the cast participating. The radio cam¬ paign, aired over a full 580-station uneup,, was supplemented by tv spot campaigns in 33 cities, with spots air ed for the da ys preceding the opening , two days after the Open¬ TV 11 each area. Competitive as vveii as Teleradio-owned stations were used. newspaper side, a deal was set by exploitation chief Terry Turner with Hearst and Scripps- " 0 „ war d Papers in 24 cities. Deal h,™ . of full-page paid space, ut the gimmick was that Turner (Continued on page 16) SPEWACKS TO JAPAN ‘How to Make a Woman Happy’ Set For DCA Handling Sam and Bella Spewack, the husband-and-wife writing team, have concluded a deal with Distrib¬ utors Corp. of America for the pro¬ duction of an independent film. Picture, to be filimed in Japan, will be based on an original screenplay by the Spewacks titled “How to Make a Woman Happy,” a comedy of Americans in the occupation life of Japan. The Spewacks leave for Japan next week in search of local color and backgrounds for the film scheduled for production later this year. Fred Schwartz, DCA topper, will seek a Japanese co-production for the project. DCA will supply the stars, the director and all dollar expenses, with the Japanese co- producer taking care of local pro¬ duction costs. Alfred Katz, who negotiated the DCA-Spewack deal; leaves today (Wed.) for Japan. 16,609 Geared Houses, C’Scope Near'Saturation Cinemascope installations, both domestic and foreign, are steadily moving towards a saturation point in terms of booking “possibilities,” i.e., the number of theatres that any one picture can play at a time. Latest breakdown by 20th-Fox shows domestic installation at the 16,609 .mark, of which 13,430 are claimed possibilities. Total domes¬ tic theatre count, according to 20th, is 23,430 (including the drive-ins) of which 15,516 rate as.possibili- ties. Abroad, with a total theatre count of 54,230 in terms of 20th's | business, maximum possibilities are put at 17,338. Total installa¬ tions now run to 14,524 and addi¬ tional equipment orders run to al¬ most 2,000. Total number of installations v/orldwide (incl. the U. S. and Can¬ ada) amounts to 31,133. Spyros*P. Skouras, 20th prexy, said last week that not > in his wildest dreams could he have hoped two years ago that Cinemascope would spread so rapidly throughout the world. Actually, while the system itself (Continued on page 16) LOEW DRIVE-IN HEARING DURING MARCH 12 WEEK - .. Washington, March 6. Hearing on the Loew’s applica¬ tion to obtain % driVe-in theatre in SharpstoWn, a residential suburb of Houston, Texas, has been post¬ poned a few days. It will be held before the Fed¬ eral Court in New York, probably the latter part of the week of March 12. It was originally sched¬ uled for Thursday (8). ‘BETTER’ GEAR Equipment dealers with a finger on the exhibition pulse say theatre operators across the coun¬ try are showing increasing resist¬ ance against any technical changes directly affecting their pocket- books. Theatremen say, “we don’t need any more new technical toys, we need boxoffice pictures.” Many houses, say the dealers, just don’t feel they’re justified in investing further coin in updating their equipment to accommodate new systems or methods. Nor do exhibs see any sizable payoff in engineer¬ ing refinement^. Immediate victim of this mood has been 20th-Fox, which is trying hard, to peddle its penthouse at¬ tachment to the theatres. Only around 125 have been installed to date and progress is reported slow. The penthouse allows an optically equipped house to play a magnetic print. According to 20th, the sound from the single magnetic channel is still superior to that obtained from an optical -track. Further¬ more, the penthouse installation is a boon for 20th, which finds itself marooned by the failure of mag¬ netic stereophonic sound to catch on widely. 20 th’s Predicament At this moment, 20th is the only distributor serving a full comple¬ ment of stereophonic and optical prints on each picture. It’s difficult for the company to convince thea¬ tres to go for stereo sound units, (Continued on page 61) Preminger U S. Rep at Cannes Paris, March 6. Present indication is that this year’s American representative on the jury , of the Cannes Film Fes¬ tival will be Otto Preminger. The 1955 rep was Anatole Litvak. * Preminger is believed to have been ballyhooed for the post by Max Youngstein and Francis Wiiii-' . kus of United Artists while in ; Paris recently, with'Cannes chief Favre LeBret impressed. ‘ 1 As director of. “The Moon Is Blue” and “Man With the Golden ! Arm,” both under attack in the ; States, Preminger stacks up as \ hero timber on this side. ■ ‘Alex’ Bow for B’nai B’rith “Alexander the Great” is set for < a March 28 premiere at New York's < Capitol Theatre Tor the benefit of : B'nai B’rith. United Artists, distributor of the i Robert Rossen production, plan¬ ning usual elaborate trimmings. 1 Charge Lazard Freres Snafued t Deal for Billy Mitchell Biopic O’CONNOR'S 10% WAGE HIKE Universal Also Amends Blumberg’s Contract—He Stays Active Universal has handed v.p. John J. O’Connor a new thr£e-year con¬ tract at $1,1Q0 per week. New agreement, calling for the same terms and conditions of previous employment, represents a $100 weekly hike. Pact went into effect Jan. 4. 1956, expiration date of O’Connor's previous agreement with the com¬ pany. The new contraict is revealed in supplementary data filed with the Securities & Exchange Com¬ mission by Universal. The report to the SEC also con¬ firms the^amending of board chair¬ man’s l/. J. Blumberg’s contract. Under the “amendatory agree¬ ment,” Blumberg will continue to serve the company in an active ca¬ pacity during the next five years of his 10-year contract rather than on a parttime consultive basis. U. So Feels It As Color & Size Up Costs in Europe Increased use of color and Cine¬ mascope in European productions creates new problems in the sell¬ ing of these pictures in the Amer¬ ican market, Edward L. Kingsley, head of Kingsley International and of^Columbia’s new foreign filifi dis¬ tributing ^init, said in Manhattan this week. Kingsley last week re¬ turned from an extended European trip. He declared that, due to the util¬ ization of color and the new screen methods, production costs—partic¬ ularly in France—had gone up ap¬ preciably. Furthermore, cost of prints and problems In connection with subtitling were obviously greater on those pictures. Widescreen tinters coming from abroad obviously involve more of a risk for the American distributor, and also they “sit between two chairs,” In a manner of speaking. They are, as a rule, not the £ype of subjects that the arties go for. At the same time, being in a for¬ eign language, they also aren't okay programming material for the commercial houses which shy away from subtitled pix. Kingsley, pointed out that, if such “big” productions are dubbed, they become automatically more * (Continued on page 16) Hit Preminger for 'Selfish Use of Biz Authors League Joins With Screen Writers in Warning Members of Credit-Hogging Failure to obtain a Production Code seal, and sundry difficulties with Washington officials and church personages, are only part of the inventory of “you hadn’t oughta” charges against “The Mam With the Golden Arm.” The Screen Writers Guild branch of the Writ¬ ers Guild of America has put in a severe slam against producer-di¬ rector Otto Preminger for person¬ ally usurping the word “by” in taking top billing on the feature. In a roundrobin printed letter to all members, signed by SWG president Daniel Taradash, Prem¬ inger is accused of hogging credit to the neglect and detriment of commonly observed professional courtesy and time-honored trade practice. Producer’s attorney has acknowledged the Screen Writers complaint, unsatisfactorily and the , offensive jphrase in United Artists’, advertising copy, “A Film by Otto Preminger,” continues in use. Although the Authors League of America tnovelists and dramatists) is now wholly separate from SWG, the League took up the issue and circularized its own rolls, some 10,000 members, enclosing the Taradash statement and adding the commentary of the League’s veep, Rex Stout. (Neither mailing mentioned orig¬ inal author of “The Man With the Golden Arm,” novelist Nelson Al- gren, a member of the League.) Said Stout: “For a man to write a novel called ‘The Man With the Golden Arm,’ to have that novel made into a motion pic¬ ture, and to have the motion picture advertised as ‘A Film by Otto Preminger,’ is cer- (Contlnued on page 16) Wall St. banking house of Lazard Freres & Co., Andre Meyer and eight Lazard partners have beep named defendants in a $1,500,000 damage suit brought in N. Y. Su¬ preme Court by Trophy Produc¬ tions Inc. Action, which came to light last week when Trophy sought to amend its complaint, in¬ volves motion picture rights to “Mitchell—Pioneer of Air Power,” authored by Isaac Don Levine in 1943. Aside from monetary damages, Trophy asks a declaratory judg¬ ment and an injunction restraining the defendants from claiming right to the “Mitchell” properly. Plaintiff, through its president, Barnett Glassman, asserts that it acquired rights to the Levine tome in 1953 via an assignment from in¬ die producer Samuel Bronston. Previously, however, Bronston had pledged the “Mitchell” yarn with Lazard as collateral on a loan to partially finance “Jack London,” which he produced for United Art- isas release in 1943. In addition, he also agreed to have UA deposit his share of the distribution coin with Lazard for repayment of the principal. Over a period of unspecified time, Trophy’s complaint contends, UA had deposited in excess of $400,000 which Lazard allegedly had applied to the loan and was more than enough to amortize it. Suit "also charges that when Bron¬ ston asked for re-assignment of the literary property Lazard re¬ fused and threatened to produce a film based upon the work. Protesting that the various de¬ fendants had represented to the film industry that Trophy doesn’t own the rights to the property, suit seeks general damages- of $1,375,- 000, punitive damages of $100,000 and SDe'cial damages amounting to $25,000. Story of air general Mitchell meanwhile has reached the screen via Milton Sperling's' production, “The Court-Martial of Billy Mit¬ chell,” for Warner release with Gary Cooper as key figure. Woman As Far Off-Side As She Says Drive-Ins Are, Declares Morrell Cincinnati, March 6. An attack on drive-in theatres by Mrs. Dorothy N. Dolbey, only wom¬ an on the nine-member City Coun¬ cil, brought immediate response from Robert Morrell, general man¬ ager of Twin Drive-in, Cincy’s lone such operation. The councilwoman told City Planning Commission last week that drive-ins are “terrible and out of bounds for my children.” She was protesting ^n application for a drive-in in another part of the city, near an orphanage. Said Morrell: “Had Mrs. Dolbey investigated the facts before she allowed herself to be victimized by slanderous untruths, she would have found the biggest part of drive-in theatre business is family business.” The industry spokesman added that the legislator’s “hasty state¬ ment misled the public, seriously damaged a decent business whose function is to provide clean enter¬ tainment for families which, for lack of babysitters, would be un¬ able to enjoy an evening away from home.” He said it would be “suicidal” for drive-ins to allow improprie¬ ties to go on and explained that his operation is constantly patrolled to disabuse wrong ideas and protect the safety of patrons and children. “Our patrons and the parents of young folks who use drive-ins are our biggest boosters,” he stated. Sharff to India, Israel Producer-director Stephen L. Sharff planed out this week on a four-film expedition which will take him to Switzerland, India and Is¬ rael. Returns to Manhattan in May.