First Artists Incorporate

HOLLYWOOD, JUNE 21, 1969 — In one of the most significant and far-reaching developments in the history of the motion picture industry, three of Hollywood’s top stars—Paul Newman, Sidney Poitier and Barbra Streisand —have signed incorporation papers for the formation of their own company, the First Artists Production Co., Ltd., which will finance production and arrange for the distribution of major motion picture films, in which they will star.

Below: Paul Newman, Barbra Streisand, and Sidney Poitier face the press to make their announcement at L.A.'s Alexandria Hotel. Photo by Steve Schapiro.

Newman, Streisand and Poitier

The company will be owned and operated by the stars and other key administrative, operational and production executives whose names will be announced in the near future. The inclusion of other artists and film makers in the company also is anticipated.

Each of the three stars has made an initial commitment to produce and star in three films. Additionally, the company plans to engage in television production, music publishing and recording.

The unique advantages to the artists in being able to control every aspect of a film, from its original concept through financing and its ultimate production and distribution, were underlined in statements made by the three stars at the contract signing.

Barbra sees the new company as “a natural development, a logical progression.” She said, “I have always had to be free to play the roles and sing the songs I felt strongly and instinctively were right or me. I know that my new associates have the same desire for artistic individuality and total commitment. This company will fill that need for each individual and at the same time we’ll have a teamwork situation based on mutual respect and understanding. We’ll be making many diverse films and we’re determined that every one of them—drama or comedy or musical—will reach the very high standards we demand of ourselves. Today’s audiences have become increasingly aware of quality and we are determined that every film we make will respect that awareness and do honor not only to us but to the entire entertainment industry.”

First Artists hold the incorporation papers

“Motion picture production,” Newman commented, “can and must be streamlined. For too long we have lived with outdated techniques of production and distribution. The purpose of this company, among many other things, will not necessarily be to economize but to put film production on a more efficient basis. The money belongs on the screen, not in overhead, and that’s where we intend to put it.”

Poitier stated, “The motion picture industry is moving into a new era. You either lead it, or move with it, or follow it. We have opted for leadership. We are willing to invest our time, energies and money not just in our own individual performances, for whatever they may be worth, but in a viable production entity whose sole aim will be the production of quality entertainment. I feel very strongly that we are creating new opportunities not only for ourselves but for many new, young and diverse talents in the country fro m all ethnic and minority groups.”

Three stars taking their careers into their own hands


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