New York, April 1912. While theatrical magnates in this country are becoming converts to the moving picture, there is at present a fierce and relentless war being waged against the moving picture, on the continent of Europe. The aggressors are owners, directors and managers of theaters.In order to understand the situation abroad it must be borne in mind that many of the larger theaters are either supported or largely subsidized by the government. The government, therefore, has a direct and tangible interest in promoting the prosperity of the theater and in antagonizing every influence which threatens that prosperity. The resources of these governments are practically boundless and their power to suppress any particular institution which harms or displeases them cannot be challenged on any constitutional ground. Fully aware of this condition of affairs, the theater owners of Austria, banded together in a powerful organization, have petitioned the government for the suppression of the moving picture houses within the empire. The government has begun its warfare by intolerant and intolerable censorship and by drastic regulations affecting the seating capacity, safety requirements, etc., of all moving picture houses. Storms and hard times are ahead for exhibitors in that part of the world. Scores of moving picture houses will be wiped out of existence and many more will be severely crippled.
A similar campaign has started in Germany, and the entire industry in Central Europe will be seriously affected.
All these facts are of great importance to the American manufacturer who exports his product into the European market. It is well known that the European market has so far been a profitable one. In some instances American manufacturers have made more money on their European than on their American sales. The question occurs as to what they may be able to do to stem this tide of official disfavor. One way to do this will be the support of exhibitors’ associations in the countries named. These associations are but of recent origin and their growth has been slow.
Nevertheless they are a valuable nucleus of opposition to the arbitrary methods of the government. Unless a vigorous fight is made in the courts the damage to the European trade will be enormous.
(The Moving Picture World, 6 April 1912)