Thomas Ince: Hollywood's Independent Pioneer

By Brian Taves | Go to book overview

7
A Fresh Start

On June 26, 1917, Ince signed a distribution contract with Paramount that stipulated he was to produce one to four “special features,” at least six thousand feet in length and at least four months apart, each year for two years beginning September 1, 1917. Paramount, originally a distributor, had been founded in 1914 by W. W. Hodkinson. He left shortly after it was taken over in 1916 by Adolph Zukor and Jesse L. Lasky, who merged it with their Famous Players Film Company and Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company. The name Famous Players-Lasky was incorporated, but Paramount was retained for trade purposes. Artcraft had originally been formed the year before to handle the release of the films of Mary Pickford, but soon it was used for any major Paramount release.

Ince was promised a guaranteed profit—almost. Artcraft would advance Ince $100,000 per film, to be subtracted later from his share of the receipts. In turn, however, Artcraft pledged that it would pay Ince at least $50,000 over this cost.1 If Artcraft was required to make up for a deficiency in the gross, it would retain Ince’s share until the amount was offset, with Ince receiving 65% of the gross.2 The contract was renewed on January 31, 1919, with only minor changes, allowing Ince to furnish to the distributor all those films he could make from April 1919 to the beginning of September 1920, and now with a length of at least five reels apiece; Famous Players-Lasky would advance $10,000 weekly.3

Again, Ince was careful about the name brand, which was to read “Thomas H. Ince presents (the play), released exclusively through the

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Thomas Ince: Hollywood's Independent Pioneer
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Screen Classics ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Part 1 - Beginnings, 1880–1912 15
  • 1 - Stage Apprenticeship 17
  • 2 - Starting in Films 23
  • Part 2 - Making a Reputation, 1912–1915 39
  • 3 - The Job of a Producer 41
  • 4 - Establishing a Studio 53
  • Part 3 - Innovations, 1914–1917 73
  • 5 - Generic Experimentation 75
  • 6 - The Prescient Failure 89
  • Part 4 - Paramount, 1917–1921 109
  • 7 - A Fresh Start 111
  • 8 - The Star Series 119
  • 9 - World War I and Specials 143
  • Part 5 - The Perils of An Independent, 1919–1924 159
  • 10 - Associated Producers, 1919–1921 161
  • 11 - The Inevitable Merger, 1921–1922 177
  • 12 - War with First National, 1922 189
  • 13 - The Studio Resumes Production, 1922–1923 199
  • 14 - Case Study of a Production and Its Personnel- Her Reputation, 1922–1923 211
  • 15 - Initial Distribution beyond First National, 1923 231
  • 16 - At the Crossroads, 1923–1924 247
  • 17 - The Steady Hum of Independent Production, 1924 255
  • Epilogue 271
  • Notes 283
  • Bibliography 343
  • Index 355
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