Record #823

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Gabriel Hess
Mr Will H. Hays, President, MPPDA
Reel 9
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MPTOA - Allied States Meeting
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MPTOA-Allied States meeting proposed federal legislation more drastic than Brookhart bill. Memo - probably from Hess or Pettijohn, as general summary of situation with exhibitors.


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MPTOA-ALLIED MEETING. 13 October1932. Memo - probably from Hess or Pettijohn, as general summary of situation with exhibitors Until about 1922 the motion picture industry concerned itself very little with organized effort in any of its problems. The business was growing and expanding so rapidly in all directions that those engaged in its operations were able to enjoy considerable prosperity regardless of how it was operated. In 1924, however, it became established as a leading industry and public, as well as industry, attention was turned to the problems and relations between buyer and seller. The question of self-regulation in respect to many of the practices that had grown up within the industry began to attract attention. Through organization and patient effort, several outstanding examples of organized self-control in distribution and exhibition were accomplished. A steady stream of more or less minor irritations and troublesome abuses, most of which were more fancied than real but nevertheless capable of far-reaching consequences in disrupting the orderly operation of the business, were adjusted or avoided by organized conciliation. These included: 1. The use of a standard form of exhibition contract, whicha. was approved by the organized exhibitors and their representatives,b. gave assurance that the contract forms were identical when so marked,c. afforded what exhibitors believed was an understandable agreement between buyer and seller,d. granted a limited rejection privilege on group buys (which was rarely used)e. was considered reasonably fair by a great majority of exhibitors. 2. A practical method of local arbitration readily available for the prompt determination of contract disputes on the spot. 3. Zoning plans and committees which sought to limit protection between theatres through voluntary negotiation s within bounds that all parties affected could agree were fair and reasonable 4. Various other locally and nationally organized cooperative efforts of distributors and exhibitors to remove alleged abuses and grievances with the industry. Exhibitors throughout the country felt that whatever grievances or complaints arose could be adjusted by conference and conciliation; that there was a definite place within the industry where they could present their complaints where they would be understood and within reason an effort made to work out specific problems. A great majority of theatre owners throughout the country were proud of the industry's accomplishments in organized self-regulation and bragged about them. During the period from 1924 to 1929 all of this machinery functioned to the advantage of all branches of the industry. The little exhibitor was glad to lend his efforts in the defense of the industry from unfair and discriminatory taxes and other unjust legislative attacks. Within the past two years all or nearly all of this machinery has been destroyed. The prevailing opinion among exhibitors now is that the last trace of organized cooperation between buyer and seller has been removed. They are convinced that the distributors acting on the advice of their attorneys will uniformly refuse any suggestion they may make for organized cooperation, for the adjustment of complaints, for the removal of alleged abuses and for self-regulation in the business operation of the industry. Their experience during the last two years in urging and being refused a standard form of contract, fair zoning, voluntary arbitration, selective buying, etc. has crystallized that frame of mind. The millions of dollars that were saved to the industry through arbitration of contract disputes, united defense against taxation, avoidance of expensive and unnecessary litigation, elimination of bitter disputes and controversies between buyers and sellers is being lost. The small independent theatre owner who has been our ally in legislative work and who now understands how to make his views and influence felt in these matters, has been alienated, angered and aroused and is in a fighting moods. With 6,000 or 8,000 aroused theatre owners throughout the country supporting a Bill for federal regulation of the industry, it will be enacted. The "reforms" they demand and are being refused are mostly fair and would cost the distributors nothing in dollars and cents. Fair arbitration is legal and always will be legal. A standard form of exhibition contract offered separately to exhibitors for optional use is undoubtedly legal. Zoning plans providing only for a maximum amount of protection (no minimum,) voluntarily and openly negotiated between exhibitors and distributors locally in each territory are legal and will eventually prevail in the industry when patience takes the place of short-sightedness. Exhibitor organization is necessary and always will be necessary. Competing theatre owners, circuit of otherwise, must develop and maintain friendly and fair business relations with each other as well as with the distributors or it will be developed for us by "shake-down artists" who know nothing about the mechanics of the business, and care less!

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