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Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Wallis Fiddles While 3-D Burns

Memphis Plays Money From Home Flat for New Year's Eve ...

Patronage To Paramount: Lay Those Glasses Down!

... Then Goes With 3D For 2/54 Date
Hal Wallis produced Money From Home on 100% independent basis, then dangled result before an eager Paramount, that company having up to then part-financed and split profits with HW and partner Joseph Hazen. The pact had sustained from wartime sign-up through over a dozen features, but it was Wallis/Hazen that had Dean and Jerry's contract, not Paramount. The latter having no stake in Money From Home meant they had to vie with other distribs to handle gold brick this one was reckoned to be. Martin and Lewis were meanwhile flying their own indie colors, The Caddy a break from Wallis oversee and done for the team's own York Productions. Money From Home had been finished on May 1, 1953, a peak period for 3-D enthusiasm, but Wallis would dawdle months for a best distribution deal based on twin lures of the process and first-ever Technicolor to showcase M&L. Bloom came off the 3-D rose during eight month interim between Money From Home's completion and belated release. Customers had meantime got sick to death of depth and were by fourth quarter '53 ducking it for fresher Cinemascope. Columbia had Miss Sadie Thompson set for year end release and let theatres decide yea or nay on 3-D. Richmond, Va. saw Sadie play depth and flat in venues split between the formats, while Philadelphia's Goldman Theatre dropped the 3-D after one day and polling among patrons that indicated "overwhelming reaction ... in favor of flat presentation" (Variety).

Producer Hal Wallis Turns Key On Money Machine That Was Martin and Lewis

Indianapolis Says Yes To 3D for MFH
To this conflicted market, then, came Money From Home. Paramount, having done a deal with Wallis/Hazen, announced a nationwide Preview for New Year's Eve 1953 at 322 theatres. The strategy had been used twice before for new Martin-Lewis shows. Para expressed "hopes to have the complete print order working at the special midnight shows," but there was the rub, for Technicolor labs would have to generate 644 prints in total, a left and right for each of the 322 houses playing Money From Home. 3-D aspect of the plan did not come off, due to Technicolor's inability to supply dual prints by December 31 deadline. The previews consequently played flat, with general release announced for February 4, 1954. Paramount distribution chief Al Schwalberg added that Money From Home, originally slated as 3-D only for key dates, would instead be available "in standard form" should showmen prefer it. Most would.



Saturation in L.A. --- But Nix on 3D
England got "strong attraction" Money From Home ahead of the US for early January at the London Plaza, but trades did not indicate 3-D for that booking. February stateside dates tilted toward flat, Los Angeles and Chicago passing on the glasses, while Indianapolis and Memphis stayed with specs. Chicago, in fact, played Money From Home on a double-bill with Jivaro, another Paramount release (via the Pine-Thomas unit) that was made in 3-D, but shorn of the process for its Windy City play-off. Audiences didn't mind, the combo bringing "a sock $28,000" for opener week. Paramount by way of salvage dropped its surcharge on eyewear handed out to Money From Home customers, Film Bulletin (3/8/54) crediting the company for being first "to come to its senses on this subject." Para's lift of demand for percentage of 3-D glasses sales was a good will gesture coming too little/too late ... Money From Home ran 3-D in only 356 theatres, from which $357,910 returned in domestic rentals, while the flat version went out for 17,220 bookings, these earning $2.857 million. MFH has since played at several 3-D revivals, and there is a DVD (2-D and full frame) from Legend Films.

2 Comments:

Blogger KING OF JAZZ said...

Lewis sure looks like Martin Short in that top newsprint ad.

4:02 PM  
Blogger Kevin K. said...

I saw this in 3D at the Film Forum several years back. It featured the original intermission in order to allow the projectionist to change the reels. Like other 3D movies from that time, it gave me a headache.

9:47 AM  

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