Film Booking Offices of America

Film Booking Offices of America (FBO), also known as FBO Pictures Corporation,[1] was an American film studio of the silent era, a producer and distributor of mostly low-budget films. It was founded in 1920 as Robertson–Cole (U.S.), the American division of a British import–export company formed by the English-born Harry F. Robertson.[2] Robertson-Cole bought the Hallmark Exchanges (formerly the Mutual Exchanges that became known as Exhibitors-Mutual Exchanges) from Frank G. Hall in 1920. Exhibitors-Mutual/Hallmark had distributed Robertson-Cole product, and acquiring the exchanges gave them the right to distribute their own films plus Hall's product, with the exception of Charlie Chaplin reissues which he had the rights to.[3]

Film Booking Offices of America
IndustryMotion pictures
PredecessorRobertson-Cole Corp.
Foundedc.1919 (as Robertson-Cole Corp., U.S. division of Robertson-Cole [UK])
FateAssets transferred to Radio-Keith-Orpheum Corp.
SuccessorRKO Pictures
HeadquartersNew York City

Robertson-Cole initiated film production in the United States in 1920. That year, it incorporated Robertson-Cole Studios, Inc. and bought 460 acres in Pacific Palisades, California to establish a studio. The property, which became known as the "R.C. Ranch", enabled Robertson-Cole to centralize film production, which previously had been scattered. The film company had relied on equipment rentals to produce motion pictures.[4] Two years later, a corporate reorganization led to the company's new name, with FBO becoming the official name of the distributing operation and Robertson-Cole Pictures Corp. the name of the production operation.[5] In 1923, the studio contracted with Western actor Fred Thomson, who would soon emerge as one of Hollywood's most popular stars. Thomson was just one of the numerous screen cowboys with whom FBO became identified.

The studio, whose core market was America's small towns, also put out many romantic melodramas, non-Western action pictures, and comedic shorts. In 1926, financier Joseph P. Kennedy led a group that acquired the company. In June 1928, using RCA Photophone technology, FBO became the second Hollywood studio to release a feature-length "talkie." A few months later, when Kennedy and RCA chief David Sarnoff arranged the merger that created RKO, FBO was included in the new company.

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