Hollywood Renegades Archive

The Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers

Book Cover


SIMPP Press Release

April 13, 1942

In 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.

Mr. 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.

He states:

"First 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.

"Public 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 the 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.

"The 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.

“The 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.

"On 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.

“As 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.

“It 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 the proposals.

"It 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.

"The 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 Justice. We 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 exclusively.

"The 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.”

SIMPP archiveSIMPP historyHollywood antitrust case | the authorsite map
the publisherpress room | contact usorder information

Copyright © 2005 Cobblestone Entertainment.
All rights reserved.