February 2018 Auction Ends Thursday, February 22nd, 5pm Pacific
Very rare Walt Disney letter signed regarding the proposed "Anti-Block Booking and Blind Selling Bill", anti-trust legislation in the U.S. Congress that rocked Hollywood during the 1930s, so important to the movie industry that stars such as Shirley Temple were dispatched to Capitol Hill to testify against it. Composed on colorful "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" letterhead, Disney writes this three-page letter on 11 April 1938 to Senator Tom Connally, methodically explaining how such legislation would not only negatively impact Disney's "Mickey Mouse" short films, but also prevent it from making features such as "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", which had premiered only four months earlier.

At the center of the controversy were the bill's proposed bans on "compulsory block booking", which would prohibit studios from requiring independent theaters to buy a slate of films, and "blind selling", which would force studios to provide a "complete and true synopsis" of the film, thereby giving them no flexibility to change the story based on test screenings, etc. While these provisions would give independent theaters more leverage over studios, Walt Disney explains the devastating impact they would have upon his animated films. Letter reads in part,

"I have read Senate Bill 153, introduced by Senator Neely, which proposes to prohibit what is called 'compulsory block booking' and 'blind selling' in the leasing of motion picture films in interstate and foreign commerce. / I consider that the passing of this legislation would impose a great hardship on the motion picture industry and, with special reference to short subject producers like ourselves, would result in making it impossible for many to continue in business because of the added difficulties that would confront the producers.

All short subjects are produced in 'series'. Our 'Mickey Mouse' and 'Silly Symphony' cartoons are produced and released in series of thirteen subjects each. We attempt to carry out a schedule under which one subject is released every two weeks. / Under present conditions an independent producer of good short subjects has great difficulty in getting a commensurate return for his product, and the profit margin in producing and idstributing [sic] short subjects today, to the independent producer, is so narrow that it has caused a great lack of good short product on the market.

Short subjects distribution costs to the independent producer are extremely high, because of the fact that each separate picture of a series entails all the handling, servicing, billing and collecting of accounts by a distributor, as does each separate feature picture. Yet the rentals, by comparison, are only a small fraction of those secured for feature pictures. This great amount of work and effort necessarily makes distribution costs high on short subjects…[which] range from thirty-five to fifty percent…If the distributor were required to sell each short subject singly, the cost of saled [sic] would greatly increase and the result would be still less returns to the independent producer, and inferior pictures for the public.

The only alternative to poorer pictures would be higher film rentals to the exhibitor for his short subjects, or a complete abolition of short subjects from independent producers. In either event, this much seems certain: the passage of the Neely Bill would mean the departure of 'Mickey Mouse' and the 'Silly Symphony' cartoons from neighborhood and small town theatres…If short subjects were sold individually the exhibitor would be required many times to pay much higher rentals for outstanding short subjects as, for instance, on such picture as our 'Three Little Pigs,' 'Country Cousin,' the 'Old Mill', special Christmas subjects, etc…

I feel most strongly that the 'synopsis' requirements of the bill would be very harmful to the sales value of any picture and its ultimate entertainment value to the public. / While we are primarily short subject producers, we have successfully produced and released our first feature length picture entitled 'SNOW WHITE AND SEVEN DWARFS' which represents an outlay of approximately one and one-half million dollars includina [sic] print costs. This motion picture, during the three years of its production, was in the nature of a very hazardous venture in a new field. If a synopsis were compulsory, I am certain that it would be very injurious to the box-office value of such pictures. If we had known before entering into the production of 'SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS' that we would have to meet the synopsis requirement, it is very doubtful that our company would have ventured in this hazardous undertaking. / I feel that the passage of the 'Neely Bill' would be a calamity to the motion picture industry…[signed] Walt Disney".

Exceptional letter measures 8.5" x 10" on three separate sheets of Walt Disney Productions, Ltd. letterhead. Folds, original staple at upper left and some foxing, but overall in very good condition, an important letter in the history of motion pictures.
Fantastic Walt Disney Letter Signed From 1938 Regarding Neely Anti-Trust Legislation -- …If we had known before entering into the production of 'SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS'…hazardous venture…Fantastic Walt Disney Letter Signed From 1938 Regarding Neely Anti-Trust Legislation -- …If we had known before entering into the production of 'SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS'…hazardous venture…Fantastic Walt Disney Letter Signed From 1938 Regarding Neely Anti-Trust Legislation -- …If we had known before entering into the production of 'SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS'…hazardous venture…Fantastic Walt Disney Letter Signed From 1938 Regarding Neely Anti-Trust Legislation -- …If we had known before entering into the production of 'SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS'…hazardous venture…
Fantastic Walt Disney Letter Signed From 1938 Regarding Neely Anti-Trust Legislation -- "…If we had known before entering into the production of 'SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS'…hazardous venture…"
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