Report on Welsh Pearson's marketing through 'Presentation; and 'Exploitation', inaugurated by selling The Romany (1923)
Welsh-Pearson Inaugurate Presentation Campaign
To Commence with The Romany
What is 'Presentation'?
Is it merely an advertising stunt similar to the old-fashioned parade outside the fair-ground booth; or is it a form of expression for the very soul of true showmanship?
Amid a laudable general desire to increase the attractiveness of the picture theatre entertainment, much confusion of thought has arisen as to the methods by which this should be done. 'Presentation' and 'Exploitation' - words which have assumed almost the dignity of Trade terms - have been bandied about indiscriminately without any clear understanding or common agreement as too exactly what they signify. The result is that these much discussed 'cures' for box-office ills have become, in some cases, more dangerous than the disease. Hypnotised by the doctrines of stunt specialists, certain sections of the Trade have apparently begun to believe that 'presentation' is all that matters. Salesmanship has superseded showmanship. Pictures have been booked not for their entertainment merits but for their 'exploitation values'. And the consequence is that where such methods have been practised the cinema show has tended to become an empty catch-penny sensation instead of a solid, value-for-money business holding the confidence of the people.
In view of these dangerous abuses, it is good to find a British firm making a determined stand on behalf of sincere and intelligent showmanship by which alone the film theatre can progress towards its destiny as the world;s most popular pleasure-institution. This new campaign for better screen entertainments is inaugurated by the famous producing house of Welsh Pearson. To ensure that the exhibitor will derive the fullest benefit from their productions and that the public shall se the latter under the best possible conditions, Welsh Pearson have decided to issue in future complete material for the successful exploitation and presentation of all their films. When the exhibitor books one of their attractions, he will acquire not merely so many reels of celluloid, but an entire entertainment, which has been carefully worked out in all its bearings under the direct supervision of the producers.
In outlying this new policy to a BIOSCOPE representative, Mr T.A. Welsh emphasised his conviction that the producer's responsibility does not end with the delivery of the film. 'The film is only a portion of the cinema entertainment,' he pointed out. 'Music, effects, lobby displays, and other accessories of the modern picture show are almost equally indispensable, and, to secure the best result, it is surely essential that the entertainment should be conceived as a whole.
'In our desire to see our films exploited and presented with the greatest possible advantage to both exhibitors and the public, we have no intention of going outside the legitimate boundaries of the film industry. We believe that the cinema is the most effective, as it is the logical, place for film exhibitions, and we are confident that with the assistance we propose to offer, the professional film exhibitor is best qualified to secure the finest results.
'The provision of a carefully worked out musical setting should surely be an essential function of the producing house. Music is as important - and almost as integral a feature of the modern film play - as the sub-titles. There can be neither reason nor justification for leaving 3,000 individual musical directors to improvise 3,000 different settings for the same film, when a single ideal accompaniment may be rendered available to all.
'Like the musical setting, exploitation material should faithfully interpret the true spirit of the film and the real intentions of its producer. Its aim should be to interest the public in the actual entertainment; not to manufacture ingenious 'exploitation angles' without relation to facts - a method that can only end in disappointment and ultimate disbelief. And here again the producer's intimate knowledge of his own work may be advantageously made use of.'
Welsh Pearson's new policy is being inaugurated with their latest picture, "The Romany", in connection with which a remarkable repertoire of accessories - demonstrated at last week's Trade Show of the production - will be issued to distributors.
The presentation of the picture was placed in the hands of Charles Penley, son of the late W.S. Penley, and for many years assistant manager of the Alhambra Theatre, who has been responsible for fifty picture presentations during the last nine months. The remarkable musical accompaniment, with ingenious 'atmospheric' effects, was arranged by Louis Levy, musical director of the New Gallery Kinema, whose picture settings have justly made him famous. Band parts for large or small orchestra, with an explanatory 'score' of the effects introduced, will be available.
Novel hand-coloured cut-outs, mounted on miniature stages and lighted from within, for lobby display are a feature of the exploutation material provided. These lobby displays, which will be hired at a very small cost, will be packed specially for transmission by rail.