many ways this press release was the opening gun of the showdown between SIMPP
and the major studios. It was issued about ten weeks after the Society of
Independent Producers went public in January 1942. The Society protested the
efforts of the major studios to try to enact further compromise in the great
antitrust suit of old Hollywood: U.S. v. Paramount Pictures, e
t al. SIMPP specifically attacks the "Unity
Plan" drafted by a council of major studios representatives called the United
Motion Picture Industry.
In a statement addressed to members of national and
territorial motion picture exhibitor associations, that currently are being
importuned by their leaders to ratify a new sales plan for distribution of
motion pictures, The Society of Independent Motion Picture producers, through
its President, Loyd Wright, urges defeat or the new scheme and retention of the
provisions of the U. S. consent decree which abolished block booking.
Wright is spokesman for an organization, members of which include Charles
Chaplin, Walt Disney, Samuel Goldwyn, Alexander Korda, Miss Mary Pickford, David
O. Selznick, Walter F. Wanger and Orson Welles.
essential in the successful operation of a theatre is a supply of quality
pictures made available to exhibitors on a basis of individual entertainment
merit and box office
value of each film.
and exhibitor sentiment, crystallized over a period of years, brought about
abolishment of block booking and recognition by the U. S. Department of Justice
that public and trade interests demanded the complete abandonment of the
old-time blind selling practices or major film companies. Under
consent decree, which temporarily suspended the Government's Anti-Trust film
suit, it is obligatory that each company, signatory to the decree, shall first
produce and trade show its output before entering into agreements with theatres
for its exhibitions. Sales are restricted to groups of not more than five films.
theatre season now drawing to a close has been noteworthy because under the
necessities of trade showing all fi1ms prior to leasing transactions, higher
quality pictures have been produced.
spur to Hollywood creative talent has been reflected in better pictures, in
public recognition of merit and talent and in the inevitable purging of
incompetence and triteness is heretofore fostered by volume selling of films.
the side of business showmanship the provisions of the consent decree have
resulted in higher box office and film rental returns for the deserving and
satisfying product, and discouraging results from unpopular efforts.
a result of this proven improvement in the film industry business structure
certain producers, imbued with the prospect of a continuing, open competition
market among thousands of theatres, are making ambitious plans for the coming
season, entering into heavy financial commitments for story material and ting
and directing talent.
is with great concern, therefore, that members The Society of Independent Motion
Picture Producers view the request of the major companies to exhibitors of the
U. S. to join with them in a petition to the Department of Justice to modify the
consent decree terms and permit a return, both in spirit and effect, of the
out-moded and highly monopolistic practice of blind selling and block booking.
The fact that the plan, as conceived under the guise of industry
unity, provides for four separate periods of film sales during the year instead
of one, and the further provision that some of the films in each group must be
completed productions and trade shown, while others are yet on the planning
boards, do not mitigate against the inherent unfair and unscientific angles of
is declared by proponents of the so-called Unity Plan that exhibitors shall
reclaim some privileges of cancelling films, unsuitable or undesirable. In fact,
the lure of cancellation is blinding many exhibitors to the far greater dangers and
potential abuses in the proposed plan, which among other evils results in
forcing on the public indifferent and trite product.
position of this Society, having in mind solely that a successful and prosperous
exhibition branch is essential to success in the producing field, is that the
Unity Plan should not be approved by exhibitors, collectively through their
Associations, or individually in letters to the Department of
believe, rather, that if any modifications of the sales method are contemplated
by the Department of Justice such changes shall more vigorously protect the
exhibitor against any forced group selling, leaving to his sole discretion
whether he shall license one or more films from any group, trade shown
idea of returning to any phase of block selling of large packages of films,
regardless of how the scheme is presented, is abhorrent to all persons who
have the best interests of the industry at heart and a regard for the public
service functions of the screen.”