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The Famous Players-Lasky Antitrust Case

Independents Defect from the Studios

Samuel Goldwyn pictures around 1923.  (Aberdeen collection). 

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Testimony of Samuel Goldwyn

New York Telegraph - May 2, 1923:

. . . Samuel Goldwyn, formerly head of the Goldwyn Pictures Corporation, testified that after the formation of that company in 1917, great difficulty was experienced by the company in getting its pictures shown in important cities, due to control of theatres by the Paramount-Famous Players interests and the franchises of the Associated First National.

Mr. Goldwyn said he entered the motion picture business in 1923 [sic 1913] when, in partnership with Jesse L. Lasky, he formed the Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company. Cecil B. DeMille was also associated with them, he said. This company produced its first picture in the Spring of 1914, he testified, and at this time the Paramount Company was organized to distribute films and films of Famous Players.

The output of these two concerns did not furnish continuous programs throughout the year, and so the Paramount Company itself became a producer, Mr. Goldwyn said. This arrangement was unsatisfactory to the Company, and negotiations were begun for the consolidation of the Lasky Company with Famous Players, with the expectation that Paramount could be induced to join, making one big company.

The Famous Players Lasky combination was effected and then a $25,000,000 corporation was planned to include the Paramount and some other interests. The deal was not consummated due to inability of all parties to agree as to the time. The proposal, however, served to influence the Paramount Company to make better terms.

With the merger complete, the Famous Players-Lasky team commemorates its takeover of Paramount Pictures in 1916. Jesse L. Lasky, Adolph Zukor, Sam Goldfish (Goldwyn), Cecil B. DeMille, and Al Kaufman. Their newly-formed enterprise would suffer its first internal dissension as Goldwyn would be forced to resign only a few weeks after this photo was taken.

This consolidation of Famous Players and Lasky took place in 1917 [sic], and following this, in connection with other proposed measures, Goldwyn said, he went to California. While he was away from New York, Adolph Zukor, who represented the Famous Players interests, wrote a letter to the board of directors saying that either he or Goldwyn must leave the organization, the witness testified.

Upon his return to New York, Lasky, who had been his partner in the beginning and is his brother-in-law, came to him and told him of the Zukor letter, Goldwyn said, and announced his intention of voting for Zukor. Goldwyn said he was thus forced to resign.

After he left the Famous Players Company, Mr. Goldwyn said, he formed the Goldwyn Pictures Corporation, and it was then that he found it very difficult to obtain a showing for his pictures, due to the control of theatres by the Paramount-Famous Players interests and the Associated First National. . . .

About 1917 the contract which the Famous Players Company had with Mary Pickford expired, Mr. Goldwyn said, and Miss Pickford, having learned that Charlie Chaplin had made a contract with First National for eight pictures at $1,075,000, insisted on $10,000 a week. This made it necessary for the Famous Players-Lasky Company to get more for her pictures than could be obtained under their contract with Paramount. Thus came into being the Artcraft Company, which later added several other stars. . . .

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