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William Wadsworth Hodkinson

william wadsworth hodkinson
William Wadsworth Hodkinson August 16, 1881 – June 2, 1971, known more commonly as W W Hodkinson, was born in Pueblo, Colorado Known as The Man Who Invented Hollywood,1 he opened one of the first movie theaters in Ogden, Utah in 1907 and within just a few years changed the way movies were produced, distributed, and exhibited He became a leading West Coast film distributor in the early days of motion pictures and in 1912 he founded and became president of the first nationwide film distributor, Paramount Pictures Corporation Hodkinson was also responsible for doodling the mountain that became the Paramount logo in 19142 He left motion picture business in 1929 to form Hodkinson Aviation Corporation, and later formed the Central American Aviation Corporation and Companía Nacional de Aviación in Guatemala


  • 1 Career
    • 11 Film business
    • 12 Commercial aviation
  • 2 References
  • 3 External links


As a young man, Hodkinson was a messenger with the Western Union Telegraph Company, and he worked for other companies as a messenger, callboy, telegrapher, and signal operator In 1902, he was a trick bicycle rider and later became a salesman with ICS3

Film businessedit

Hodkinson opened one of the first movie theaters in Ogden, Utah in 1907 and charged five-cents a show4 Two-years later, he was charging ten-cents admission and changing films twice weekly With this successful strategy he was able to buy out his only two competitors as he expanded into Salt Lake City, Utah Hodkinson then joined General Film Company and became one of the leading West Coast film distributors, expanding into Los Angeles and San Francisco5

On May 8, 1914, Hodkinson merged 11 film rental bureaus to create the first US-wide distributor of feature films, Paramount Pictures In addition to gaining a huge efficiency advantage over the previous regional States' Rights and Road Show systems of film distribution, Paramount introduced the concept of block-booking This meant that exhibitors who wanted a particular movie had to buy a bundled package containing movies from all of the companies that signed exclusive rights agreements with Paramount, including Adolph Zukor's Famous Players, the Jesse L Lasky's Feature Play Company, and others Hodkinson's plan guaranteed exhibitors a steady supply of features because Paramount would help producers finance and advertise their pictures with advance rentals collected by the exchanges In return, Paramount charged producers a distribution fee of 35 percent of gross to cover operating costs and profit The 'Hodkinson System' of film distribution existed with few changes for almost a century6

Hodkinson first designed the Paramount logo in 1914 Legend has it that he doodled an image of a star-crested mountain on a napkin, clouds, and 27 stars During a meeting with Adolph Zukor It was an image of Pike's Peak he remembered from his childhood in Pueblo, CO and work as telegraph operator at the Union Depot 7

In 1916, Famous Players-Lasky formed from the merger of Famous Players Film Company and the Jesse L Lasky Feature Play Company The newly merged film studios acquired Paramount and became the parent company Zukor soon fired Hodkinson and took over as president of Paramount and added motion-picture production to the company's film distribution business Following his ouster, Hodkinson sold his Paramount interest to SA Lynch, one of Paramount's distribution franchise holders

Hodkinson soon joined Raymond Pawley to start Superpictures Incorporated in November 1916, and was the producer for the Leon F Douglass color feature film Cupid Angling 1918

Hodkinson also served as president of the Triangle Distributing Company, the distribution arm of the Triangle Film Corporation Hodkinson owned Triangle Distributing together with Pawley and his Paramount partner Lynch After leaving Triangle, Hodkinson formed the W W Hodkinson Company, later reorganized as Producers Distributing Corporation PDC lasted until 1929 and played an important role during Cecil B DeMille's short-lived but ambitious plans as a full-fledged independent filmmaker in the late 1920s1

Commercial aviationedit

Hodkinson left the motion picture business in 1929 to form an airplane manufacturing concern, Hodkinson Aviation Corporation Soon thereafter Hodkinson joined with Roderick Burnham, the son of Frederick Russell Burnham, to form the Central American Aviation Corporation and Companía Nacional de Aviación in Guatemala Ultimately, a series of accidents forced Hodkinson and his company out of Guatemala in 193618 Grupo TACA later acquired Compañia Nacional de Aviación, SA of Guatemala9


  1. ^ a b c Aberdeen, J A 2000 Hollywood renegades: the Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers Los Angeles: Cobblestone Entertainment ISBN 1-890110-24-8 
  2. ^ "Paramount Film Preservation" Archived from the original on 2007-10-13 Retrieved 2007-10-16 
  3. ^ Gertner, Richard 1956 International Motion Picture Almanac Quigley publishing Co 
  4. ^ "Paramount Pictures at Filmbug" Retrieved 2007-10-16 
  5. ^ Fox, Charles Donald; Milton L Silver 1920 Who's who on the Screen New York: Ross publishing Co 
  6. ^ "Distribution Early Practices" Retrieved 2007-10-16 
  7. ^ "Engulfed: The Death of Paramount Pictures and the Birth of Corporate Hollywood By Bernard F Dick page 9-10"  line feed character in |title= at position 79 help
  8. ^ Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Los Angeles 1930 ISBN 1-890110-24-8 
  9. ^ "Grupo TACA -- Company History" Retrieved 2007-10-16 

External linksedit

  • Biography at the Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers page

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