Skouras Brothers


Skouras Brothers

The Skours Brothers Co. was the name a theater chain from the early days of film-making based in St. Louis. It was owned and operated by three brothers: Charles, Spyros and George. Even though it never became as important and famous as other family based companies, like the Warner Brothers, its members came to play important roles in American film industry.

The Skouras brothers arrived in St. Louis in 1910 from Greece. Living frugally on wages as busboys and bartenders in downtown hotels, they pooled their savings of $3500 in 1914 and in partnership with two other Greeks, they constructed a modest nickelodeon at 1420 Market Street on the site of today's Kiel Opera House. This initial property, named the Olympia, was quickly followed by the acquisition of other theaters.

The brothers incorporated in 1924 with $400,000 capital stock. By then more than thirty local theaters belonged to the Skouras Brothers Co. of St. Louis. The biggest moment for the Skouras empire came when their dream of building a world-class movie palace in downtown St. Louis was grandly realized in 1926 when the $5.5 million Ambassador Theatre Building opened (this theater re-opened in 1939 as the New Fox Theatre).

During the depression the company encountered financial trouble. Like many other movie and theatrer moguls the Skouras Brothers were fighting for their survival. In 1929 the triumvirate sold out to Warner Brothers and moved east to claim top executive places in the industry. Thus ended the story of one of the early movie entrepreneurs of America.

Spyros Skouras became in 1942 president of 20th Century Fox. During Skouras' tenure - which was the longest in the company's history - he worked to rescue the faltering movie industry from television's lure. 20th Century Fox's famous advertising slogan, "Movies are Better than Ever", gained credibility in 1953 when Spyros introduced Cinemascope in the studio's groundbreaking feature film "The Robe". With his introduction of Cinemascope, Skouras did much to save the movie industry from its newly invented competitor - television. [http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/widescreen/wingcs5.htm] [http://www.in70mm.com/newsletter/2002/67/panavision/panavision_beginning.htm]

Charles Skouras become president of Fox Coast West. In a late 1950s suit, Goldwyn claimed that Twentieth Century-Fox, Fox West Coast Theatres, National Theatres, Charles P. Skouras, and several affiliated circuits including T & D. Junior Enterprises had intentionally discriminated against independently-produced films, and he sought compensation for years of perceived oppression. Charles died before the trial took place.

George Skouras become president of United Artists Theatres. In 1952 George joined United Artists with Michael Todd and Joe Schenck, former president of Twentieth Century Fox, in order to form the Magna Theatre Corporation for production and distribution of Todd-AO films.

References

Curti, Carlo (1967). "Skouras", "King of Fox Studios". Los Angeles: Holloway House Publishing Company.


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