Record #1263

Date:
21/05/1930
Record Type:
Letter
From/By:
David Palfreyman
To:
Harry Arthur
Reel:
Reel 8
Frame Start:
8-2300
Frame End:
8-2303
Legacy ID:
1274
Legacy Year:
1930
Legacy Index:
MPTOA
Comments:
EDITORIAL COMMENT: The letter is concerned with a plan to get chain theatres to affiliate to local exhibitor organizations. The need for the letter rises because ""the unexpected situation in the Fox organization"" has obviously meant new personnel who did not know of this arrangement, but more significant is the general manoeuvre going on here to dominate local exhibitor organizations to resist legislation, etc. At the end we get to the real motivation for the takeover, which is presumably what is involved here, so that local organizations do not concentrate wholly on protecting small theatres, particularly over amusement taxes to more expensive theatres.

Re reasons for encouraging exhibitors of affiliated theatres to join local exhibitor organizations. Includes figures showing the relative sizes of affiliated circuits: Publix 37.5%; Fox 27.6%; Loew's: 8.9%" Warner 16%, RKO 10%.The main benefit to be gained comes from the role these exhibitor organizations play in dealing with state and local legislation: Prompt, aggressive opposition by local exhibitors is essential for a successful defense to these unfair purposes. The local non-affiliated exhibitors have a direct interest in these matters and if intelligently organized can defend themselves most effectively at the same time defending the affiliated circuits against such unfair attacks.... there are over 400 circuits now operating four or more theatres in the United States, of which only six are affiliated with the producers or distributors. Most of these non-affiliated circuits already belong to the local exhibitor associations and are natural allies of the affiliated circuits in this problem.

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X30-42 21 May 1930 Palfreyman to Harry Arthur of Fox Theatres. "During the past year we have developed a comprehensive plan for coordinating the support of the local or state organizations of motion picture exhibitors by the affiliated theatre circuits taking membership jointly in these associations. This plan was developed and approved by the Theatre Executive Committee. On this Committee is represented the Publix theatres, Fox theatres, Loew theatres, RKO theatres and the Warner theatres. ... This joint plan is intended to provide reasonable and consistent support to the local or state exhibitor associations in all of the distribution zones, except the New York and Chicago zones. In those two zones there exists special situations, making it impossible to include them in a general plan. This particular plan has no reference to the support of a national exhibitor organization and should not be confused with it in any way. "In making a survey of this situation as it had been handled in the past we found that the five circuits had contributed in the form of dues to the support of local exhibitor organizations in 1929 to the extent of $46,586.00 This support had been given in only ten of the distribution zones and in none of the zones had all of the affiliated theatres operating in that zone belonged to the association. ... The matter had been handled in a more or less haphazard manner. The bulk of the support has gone to organizations that persisted in a highly antagonistic attitude and were of little or no value to the industry as a whole. While other organizations that were fair and constructive and really looking after the interests of all the theatres in their territory were not receiving any support whatever. "After considerable discussion in the Committee meetings it was recommended that all direct requests from local or state exhibitor associations for membership in their association should be referred to this office before being acted upon. It was agreed to establish a joint fund for the purpose of paying dues for the affiliated theatres, and that this fund should be contributed to by the five circuits in proportion to the total number of seats they have in their theatres in the United States which they own or control including all subsidiaries. The schedule of percentages and amounts worked out and unanimously approved by the Theatre Executive Committee is as follows: % for 1930 Total Amount To July 1st (1/2)Publix 37.5 $18,750,00 $9.375.00Fox 27.6 $13,800,00 $6,900Loew 8.9 $4,450 $2,225Warner 16.0 $8,000 $4,000RKO 10.0 $5,000 $2,500 100.0 $50,000.00 $25,000.00 ... It is generally felt by the Theatre Executives that a sincere and sympathetic interest and support evidenced by the affiliated theatre circuits in the local or state exhibitor associations will result in many benefits and aids at a very reasonable cost. In protective matters their active assistance is invaluable and cannot be replaced. Nationally their response to legislative matters is apt to be the controlling factor. In this respect they probably carry more weight than either of the national organizations. "In state or local matters their influence is even more valuable. During the past year with only 11 legislatures in session, 8 of them had general amusement tax bills introduced that were most unfair. Prompt, aggressive opposition by local exhibitors is essential for a successful defense to these unfair purposes. The local non-affiliated exhibitors have a direct interest in these matters and if intelligently organized can defend themselves most effectively at the same time defending the affiliated circuits against such unfair attacks. "Recently bills have been introduced or threatened in several states intending to tax or otherwise regulate the growth and operation of chain theatres, among them Virginia, Indiana, Texas, Georgia, Rhode Island, etc. The inclination of the small theatre owner sometimes is to support such bills and agitation, yet there are over 400 circuits now operating four or more theatres in the United States, of which only six are affiliated with the producers or distributors. Most of these non-affiliated circuits already belong to the local exhibitor associations and are natural allies of the affiliated circuits in this problem. "Other local problems faced by the affiliated theatres on which a fair and constructive local association can render valuable assistance are protection and run complaints, on which there is a growing agitation and unrest that will have to be faced soon, and all sorts of unfair local regulations, of which I am enclosing a brief summary."

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