Record #364

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EDITORIAL COMMENT: There was also a potential legal problem in the MPPDA gathering such data, as being in breach of anti-trust laws, but Hoover's activities in the Department of Commerce seem to be encouraging the collection of statistic as part of the development of trade associations. The general drift appears to be that the development of trade associations was hindered by the problem of their position in relation to the anti-trust laws, but that Hoover's interventions with the Attorney General have dealt with some of these problems - specifically so in regard to collecting data.

"Proposed Establishment of Statistical Department of Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, Inc." MPPDA Platten argues at length that there is a need for statistics touching all phases of the industry "not only for defensive but also for offensive purposes." He provides a useful list of the kinds of data which is currently available and that which is not available, in both on domestic and international contexts.


Box-office earnings (6), Distribution (25), Exhibition (47), Production (2), Statistics (5) Show all keywords…


Long Description:

Platten's proposal - December 6, 1927 - for a Statistical Department for the MPPDA - a reiteration of his suggestion of June 1925. He suggests that a major obstacle to the collection of such data has been the attitude of individual companies that other companies will use the data against them - also a complete stonewalling on the part of exhibitors to cooperate with producers and distributors. However, the FTC Conference may have cleared away some of these problems. Platten claims that the lack of such data is a handicap in dealing with "the investing public" and that it is needed for "offensive as well as defensive" purposes. Platten quotes at length from a Department of Commerce document, Trade Association Activities, which suggests that there is evidence that the possession of statistical data makes "the curves in the business cycle ... less disastrous" In 1921 Commerce organized a dept of the Bureau of Census to collect economic figures - result is The Survey of Current Business. April 1922 Hoover and Attorney General cleared up the legal position of trade association's statistics. Platten then uses this as the basis for his argument: "The motion picture industry has suffered from the lack of accurate information with respect to 2 major classes; first, 'permanent' data such as number of persons employed regularly by the industry, number of theatres in operation, number of pictures annually produced, number of pictures annually released and exhibited, etc.; and, second, 'current' data such as labor turnover in production, distributor and exhibition, theatre attendance, monthly "condition of trade" reports, monthly or weekly reports of exhibitor contracts signed, etc. All such information, of course, should embrace the foreign as well as the domestic operations of the American industry together with that of all other countries."The present lack of accurate information is damaging in two ways. First, it permits the presentation and unchallenged acceptance of loose statements and, second, it deprives the industry and the public of the benefits which always accrue with the possession of facts as to its operations and its results, past and present, which in turn can intelligently guide the future operations of the industry. In the motion picture business this knowledge would be especially valuable because of the extreme rapidity of change in operating methods in all three branches. What was good exhibition practice in 1926 is bad in 1927, and the illustrations are without number. ... The controlling factor in the accumulation of statistics by the Association will possibly be the present limitation of the cooperative effort of our own members."Platten then lists statistics he currently has, together with a list of what would be desirable.NB 14 municipal and 7 state censorship boardstheatres: 1910 9, 480 1912 12, 869 1927 20, 500 cost of average production: 1917 $ 50,000-75,000 1927 $250,000-300,00027,000 schools and institutions equipped with projection machines. 175 features and 350 short subjects exhibited per theatre annually.

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