Record #347

Record Type:
Court ruling
Federal Trade Commission
Reel 3
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Federal Trade Commission
Additional text in Transcription. EDITORIAL COMMENT: Note the comments on p.8 concerning the drive to attract the patronage of ""the more discriminating and exacting patrons of the moving picture theatres.""

Court ruling against Famous Players-Lasky (FPL), ordering it to cease and desist its block-booking activities. It includes a useful history of FPL's expansion.


Block booking (30), Legal action (3) Show all keywords…



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Long Description:

The FTC ruling on the Famous Players-Lasky case was published/released on July 9, 1927. The report contains a detailed chronology of FPL's expansion, and argues that 50% of business is derived from 1st-run showings within 6 months of release, the rest coming from other theatres over 2 or 3 years. NB if that includes the foreign market then it means that subsequent-run US theatres produce only 20% of revenues. FTC argue that the FPL aim was to exclude exhibitors from leasing films from other distributors. 1919: Famous Players-Lasky (FPL)'s "complete program was equal or superior to any complete program being offered by other distributors of films, but its program included films of lesser merit which were not suitable for exhibition in the best theatres, and for which there was little or no demand among the patrons of such theaters. To meet the demands of his patrons, an exhibitor operating a theater charging higher prices of admission and appealing to patrons of discriminating taste was compelled to exhibit such films of unusual merit and for which there had been so created a great demand, but was subject to adverse criticism by his patrons and to financial loss, when he also exhibited said films of lower qualities. To maintain the standard of his theater and the favor of his patrons, an exhibitor catering to discriminating patrons found it necessary to exhibit the better films of ... FPL, and also the films of other producer-distributors of films." July 22 1919 FPL began its policy of buying theaters. It doesn't say whether at the same time it began selling in blocks, but the process of block booking is described: "The purpose and effect ... is to coerce and intimidate an exhibitor into surrendering his free choice in the leasing of films ... thereby denying to such exhibitor the opportunity of privilege of leasing and exhibiting certain other films of higher qualities and which such exhibitor's patrons demand and which such exhibitor desires to exhibit." (11) FPL's dominance meant that their business practices were imitated by others. "Thereby it is made difficult for small and independent producers or distributors of films to enter into or remain in the moving picture industry or market, or to lease individual pictures on merit. It destroys the freedom of exhibitors to choose according to their judgement and taste films for exhibition and to exhibit only films that in their opinion are meritorious and acceptable to their patrons; and the public is deprived of the power to influence exhibitors in the choice of films and of the benefit of continuous exhibition of meritorious and acceptable films only."

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