An abandoned film depot in Pico Rivera provided some thrills for collectors of motion picture prints this summer and a scare for the MPAA after the shipping company National Film Service folded one of its franchise operations.
Gilboy Inc., a longtime franchise of NFS, was phased out recently in a corporate streamlining of the 50-year-old shipping firm. The Gilboy facility, in a rundown area of Pico Rivera, was behind in rent payments, sources say.
According to Don Trivette, general manager of NFS, the company moved all of its customers’ films from Pico Rivera to its new depot in Glendale during one week in July. NFS has 30 shipping customers including Sony, Paramount and New Line.
But the move was hurried, says Trivette, due to disagreements with the landlord, Samuel Rosen & Sons. A large number of film prints were left behind, mainly from defunct film companies. Collectors say they were contacted by the landlord and invited to buy up the remainder of the prints.
Landlord William Rosen did not confirm or deny that sales took place. But one collector — who says he arrived after other collectors had visited the site — described the left-over inventory as including National General’s “Little Big Man,” Hemdale’s “Hoosiers,” and “Platoon,” and Atlantic Releasing’s “Roadhouse,” “Valley Girl,” and “Garbage Pail Kids.”
Another collector, however, claimed that prints of major film releases were also left behind. A studio source who had been contacted by the collector and offered the films for sale said he had not seen the actual prints, but that the studio would not buy them.
” The prints are our own property,” said the studio source. “Only copyright owners can sell them.”
Rumors that recent studio releases were available were investigated by the Motion Picture Assn. of America’s piracy unit, which is on the lookout for bootleg film prints that could be used by pirate video operations.
An onsite inspection by MPAA officials was carried out “a couple of weeks ago,” according to an MPAA spokesman, who said, “As a result of our investigation we are satisfied that none of our member companies’ prints have been sold.”
Trivette said, “Security is a high priority with NFS on behalf of our customers.” He asserted that nothing of value to NFS customers was in the Pico Rivera building between the time of the move in July and the time of the MPAA visit this month. “The only thing left was abandoned from years and years ago.”
Trivette also said that NFS had no inventory of what was left behind after the move, but that the landlord of the Pico Rivera facility “should have taken possession of the film through legal remedies specified in the uniform commercial code. Those films were the property of whatever company released them.”