Film Booking Offices of America

American film studio of the silent era / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Film Booking Offices of America (FBO), registered as FBO Pictures Corp., was an American film studio of the silent era, a midsize producer and distributor of mostly low-budget films. The business began in 1918 as Robertson-Cole, an Anglo-American import-export company. Robertson-Cole began distributing films in the United States that December and opened a Los Angeles production facility in 1920. Late that year, R-C entered into a working relationship with East Coast financier Joseph P. Kennedy. A business reorganization in 1922 led to its assumption of the FBO name, first for all its distribution operations and ultimately for its own productions as well. Through Kennedy, the studio contracted with Western leading man Fred Thomson, who grew by 1925 into one of Hollywood's most popular stars. Thomson was just one of several silent screen cowboys with whom FBO became identified.

Quick facts: Type, Industry, Predecessor, Founded, Defunct...
Film Booking Offices of America
IndustryMotion pictures
PredecessorRobertson-Cole Corp.
FateAssets transferred to Radio-Keith-Orpheum Corp.
SuccessorRKO Pictures
Headquarters1922–1925: 723 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY[1]
1926–1929: 1560 Broadway, New York, NY[2]

The studio, whose core market was America's small towns, also put out many romantic melodramas, action pictures, and comedic shorts. Pauline Frederick and Sessue Hayakawa were the major stars of its R-C period. Subsequently, Evelyn Brent and Richard Talmadge were FBO's biggest non-Western stars. Tom Tyler played the lead in twenty-nine cowboy pictures for the studio. Alberta Vaughn headlined five FBO short series. The studio's most prolific directors included Ralph Ince, William Seiter, and Emory Johnson. From 1925 forward, adaptations of the works of Gene Stratton-Porter were consistently among its top box office attractions.

In 1926, Kennedy led an investment group that acquired the company, and he ran it hands-on—traveling frequently to California—with considerable success. Exhibitors cited The Keeper of the Bees, based on a Stratton-Porter novel, as the year's most popular film. In early 1928, Kennedy froze Fred Thomson out of the movie business as FBO signed the premier silent Western star, Tom Mix. That August, using RCA Photophone technology, FBO became the second Hollywood studio to release a feature-length "talkie". Two months later, Kennedy and RCA executive David Sarnoff arranged the merger between FBO and the Keith-Albee-Orpheum theater circuit that created RKO, one of the major studios of Hollywood's Golden Age. FBO's assets were folded into the new company, and it was dissolved in early 1929.

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