Volume I: Narrative History


Chapter 6 (1913): The Changing Programs

Business was excellent for Thanhouser and for Mutual. Charles J. Hite, who also served as treasurer of the Film Exchange Corporation, the parent holding company of the Mutual Film Corporation, announced that a dividend of three and one-half percent would be paid on the preferred stock on January 14, 1913 to stockholders of record. Note At the time Mutual had 32 exchanges in various cities.

While the companies and release days on the Patents Company and Universal programs were much the same as they had been in mid-December 1912, the Film Supply Company and Mutual programs had changed considerably by the second week of January:


FILM SUPPLY COMPANY (in mid-December 1912): Note

Sunday: Majestic, Thanhouser

Monday: American, Itala, Comet

Tuesday: Gaumont, Majestic, Thanhouser

Wednesday: Gaumont, Reliance, Solax

Thursday: American, Gaumont, Punch

Friday: Lux, Solax, Thanhouser

Saturday: American, Gaumont, Great Northern, Reliance, Comet


FILM SUPPLY COMPANY (in mid-January 1913):

Monday: Itala, Comet

Tuesday: Gaumont

Wednesday: Gaumont, Solax

Thursday: Gaumont

Friday: Lux, Solax

Saturday: Gaumont, Great Northern


MUTUAL FILM CORPORATION (in mid-December 1912):

Monday: Keystone

Wednesday: Broncho

Friday: Kay-Bee


MUTUAL FILM CORPORATION (in mid-January 1913):

Sunday: Majestic, Thanhouser

Monday: American, Keystone

Tuesday: Majestic, Thanhouser

Wednesday: Reliance, Broncho

Thursday: American, Punch

Friday: Kay-Bee, Thanhouser

Saturday: American, Reliance


Within a period of three weeks, much of the Film Supply Company program had shifted to the Mutual, enabling the latter to expand from three days a week to seven. These were times of great growth by the Independents, and in addition to the success of Film Supply Company and Mutual releases, Universal films were enjoying an ever-widening audience. More and more there was a cry from exhibitors for an open market whereby theatres could order selected releases from any of the major programs, without having to declare exclusive allegiance to any one in particular. During the next year or so this gradually became a reality.

For Patents Company firms, some of which still exhibited aggressiveness in 1913, a period of decline had set in. Rewards in the film marketplace, like any other commercial arena, went to the innovators, and without question the Patents Company members were largely content to rest on their laurels, while the young and growing Independents presented fresh ideas and spirited vitality. The year 1913 would see the departure from Biograph of D.W. Griffith, who would go on to produce films under other banners. Biograph declined precipitately and during the next several years contented itself with emphasizing the glories of the past by reissuing old Griffith-directed films while renting portions of its studio to other firms. Note

Lubin, another key element in the Patents Company program, had two or three more good years ahead of it, after which it, too, would fade from the scene. The Edison studio, which was a player in the motion picture game at the very beginning, never kept in step with progress after the first decade of the 20th century, and its failure to produce a wide variety of multiple-reel films with serious dramatic content would have a telling effect. Thomas Edison himself probably was concerned very little about the decline of his motion picture operations, for films were never his forte, and he had his fingers in many other business pies. Vitagraph maintained an aggressive program of releases and would be strong for the next several years, but gradually it, too, would lose the market share it had enjoyed in the early days of Patents Company dominance. Of all the Patents Company members, Vitagraph was to live the longest and would remain in business until 1925.


Copyright © 1995 Q. David Bowers. All Rights Reserved.