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February 2002, Week 2


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Mike Chopra Gant <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 8 Feb 2002 04:44:54 EST
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I've done a lot of work on revenues for mid 40s films in my recent research and I think the short answer to this is that gross figures for any films in this period will be impossible to obtain. I am working on the films with the highest rental revenues in 1946 and even for these well known films I haven't been able to locate a source of grosses. With these obscure films I think the position will be even more problematic.  If rentals are any good as a *second best* to grosses your simplest option would be to check out Lyon's Survival Guide to Film or Steinberg's Reel Facts but once again the obscurity of the films might work against their inclusion here as these publications only concern themselves with the big movies of the year in question. Variety used to publish a list of *Top Grossing* movies at the end of each year but these lists were actually based on rentals rather than grosses, and often these were estimates rather than achieved rentals. I think Variety adn Hollywood Reporter used to provide weekly accounts of revenues for films which were running at the time so you could in theory go through every copy of these publications and total up the reported revenues for each week a film appears but this would be a lot of work and I still wouldn't vouch for the accuracy of any figure this method produced at the end.

Exhibition and differential remuneration practices complicate the position. With a variety of different tiers of exhibition, first run, second run, neighbourhood theatres, drive ins etc. it is easy to understand how difficult it would have been to keep a track on what grosses were being received at the  box office, and the fact that *B* movies were rented on a flat fee and *A* movies on a percentage of the box office income means that even if you could find the gross, it doesn't necessarily provide a reliable index to the number of people seeing a given film.

Sorry to be so pessimistic about this. If you would like to discuss this further (and I could probably go on for hours) please feel free to email me off-list

Mike Chopra-Gant
University of North London

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