Pickman Seeks All-Industry Effort to Overcome Resistance to Change

Motion Picture Exhibitor Magazine, March 15, 1961:

KANSAS CITY, MO – A call for a joint exhibitor effort to “overcome the resistance to change and accept and adopt new ideas, new concepts, new approaches, new attitudes so that our great industry will flourish anew” was issued by at the United Theatre Owner Show-A-Rama Convention by Jerome Pickman, Paramount Pictures vice-president and domestic general sales manager. “The Task that lies before us” Pickman said “is to take down the sign which states Business as as usual and replace it with a sign that might say Better Business under more Imaginative circumstances”.

Pickman noted that in the four months since his appointment as Paramount’s domestic sales head, I have not had discussions with any exhibitors who do not have great faith about the opportunity of successfully and profitably operating their theaters in the future. In all of my discussions with exhibitors who represent large or small interests each and every one of them has been very upbeat and bullish about the future.

The past year and the first two months of 1961 have conclusively proven that there is no box office barrier to the heights that grosses can soar when the attraction is right and is properly sold and presented to the public.

Pickman’s own optimism for the future is not based solely on the knowledge of the outstanding product being released by all distributors, he said. I personally believe that the old bromide that existed in the past If you have a good picture you will do business and if you have a bad picture you will die – is one of the most negative approaches possible and can only result in complacency, indifference and lack of imagination on the part of all segments of our industry.

The one lesson that we at we at Paramount learn every day is that we serve our customers and ourselves best by maintaining and attitude of flexibility, where by exhibitors and ourselves consider and evaluate the product and jointly determine the best method of presenting that particular picture in that particular market – in other words picture by picture, market by market merchandising.

I am thoroughly cognizant of the fact that there is no perfect solution to any problem whereby all interested parties can have everything and give up nothing. However, the present and future successful state of our business, in my opinion, will be based primarily on our flexibility and the flexibility of our customers, so that all of us will be able to obtain maximum results on specific pictures released under specific circumstances in specific market areas.

Pickman said to be more specific, I am suggesting that not every picture made by my company be released in every market area in the United States in the future just as it always has been released in the past. I do not believe that it is specific for any of us to assume and attitude that a picture will do only what it is destined to do by the appeal of the picture itself to the public. Collectively, we must consider methods whereby the same picture, with the same appeal to the public can attain greater grosses for the theatre and, in turn, greater grosses for the distributor, which in turn issues a product continuity of even more important and expensive attractions in the future.

If we could evaluate with our customers each picture and each market and amongst us apply an attitude of fair play with due regard to each other’s problems as well as our own, I am firmly convinced that we can improve the box-office grosses for our customers on the same product that would normally be released and merchandized in the same conventional manner which has been in effect for so many years.