HC Deb 30 April 1940 vol 360 cc515-6
17. Major Sir Jocelyn Lucas

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that certain American film distributing companies are increasing their rental charges up to 70 per cent., which is out of all proportion to the charges made in the United States of America; and whether, in order to conserve foreign exchange, and to enable exhibitors to pay a decent wage to employés, he will limit the charges to the same percentage as is paid by American renters?

22. Mr. Maclean

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the film "Gone with the Wind" and the conditions on which Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Limited, are offering this film to cinema exhibitors, namely, 70 per cent. of the gross takings; and whether he will make an investigation into the manner in which American film companies and renters are abusing their powers by their methods of hire on percentage takings of halls, which have to accept their terms?

Major Lloyd George

I am aware that a rental of 70 per cent. of the net theatre receipts is being charged by the distributors of the film "Gone with the Wind." I understand that this is considerably higher than the rental charged here for any other film but I am informed by the distributing company that it is no higher than was charged in the United States for this film. The Cinematograph Films Acts do not give my right hon. Friend any power to regulate film rentals.

Mr. Maclean

Cannot something be done in regard to this particular method of sweating the cinema exhibitors of this country by charging exhorbitant prices for films? Is it not the case that when this war finishes cinemas in this country will be in the hands of the American producer, who has taken possession of the film production in this country since the last war?

Major Lloyd George

I can assure the hon. Member that my right hon. Friend has not the slightest intention of allowing what happened after the last war to happen in this war. The whole question of the film industry is under review and the question of rentals will certainly be borne in mind in any proposals which are brought forward.

Mr. Maclean

Has any committee been set up?

Mr. Lawson

May I ask whether any reason was given by the firm concerned for these increased prices for this special film, in view of the fact that other films of a vastly more spectacular character than this one have been shown without increased prices?

Major Lloyd George

I shall require notice of that question.

Mr. John Wilmot

Would not the way of exercising control over this matter be to refuse an import licence unless a reasonable rental is charged?