Record #1285

Record Type:
Mr Will H. Hays, President, MPPDA
Senator Smith W. Brookhart
Reel 4
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Exchange of letters between Hays and Brookhart on arbitration. Brookhart is introducing a bill to bring the motion picture industry under the control of the government. His main arguments are that block-booking is insupportable and that the arbitration system is nowhere near as equitable as it pretends to be. He makes the latter point again to Hays here.


Arbitration (65), Block booking (30) Show all keywords…



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Long Description:

Exchange of letters between Hays and Brookhart on arbitration, December 1928: Hays writes at length in response to a New York Times story of Brookhart's comments on arbitration: there are 500,000 to 750,000 contracts annually between distributors and exhibitors-for approx. 11m pictures - all of these contracts are made prior to production or release date, and therefore each film needs further agreement within the contract. Hays argues that disputes have to be settled quickly, because of the short life of the picture - this is not particularly convincing - but he also says that "Approximately 50% of the total receipts of a distributor is obtained from the first 1,200 out of a probable 10,000 showings." That sort of statistic begins to demonstrate why block booking is important. Prior to 1922 - i.e. the MPPDA - there was a great deal of litigation over disputes, which increased the cost of distribution and exhibition - a conference in 1922 over a uniform contract agreed to the inclusion of arbitration - reaffirmed in the 1926 writing of the Standard Exhibition Contract and in the FTC Conference in 1928. Brookhart in reply says it's a system dominated by the distributors. "The exhibitors have no such facilities for protecting their interests as are enjoyed by the distributors. The distributors, few in number, rotate on the arbitration boards at frequent intervals, they are strongly organized in the local Film Boards of Trade, and they have the constant advice of your legal department. The exhibitors are many, they are for the most part poorly organized, and they have no such legal clearing house as have the exhibitors [sic, he means distributors]. I am not unmindful of the fact that the trade journals have reported the taking over of the national exhibitors' organization, the Motion Picture Theatre Owners of America through the election to its Board of Directors of seven (out of ten) directors affiliated with producer interests. A man cannot serve two masters. This organization has evidently incapacitated itself to defend the interests of the independent exhibitors, leaving them without organization."Hays replies at length, dealing with exhibitor overbuying, etc.

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