The motion picture industry
Even before the widespread use of sound and color, simple black-and-white movies quickly gained a hold on the public imagination. The making and showing of motion pictures became a source of potential profit within a few years after the process was invented. In this way, the cinema eventually contributed to the decline of the vaudeville world it came from. Instead, motion pictures became a separate industry, with dedicated theaters and companies formed specifically to produce and distribute films.
The first theater designed exclusively for cinema opened in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1905. Thousands of such theaters were built or converted from existing facilities within a few years. In the United States, these theaters came to be known as nickelodeons, because admission typically cost a nickel (5 cents).
In early advertising and promotion, "coming movie attraction" glass slides in the Lantern 3.25" x 4" - 82.5 mm x 102 mm format were produced to be distributed to individual theaters for projection showing a week or so in advance of a film's arrival. These early promotional artifacts, with art work similar to the more common printed poster paper, could be considered advertising precursors to later storyboards and commercials. The Brenograph projection systems were technically similar to Lantern format, but in a much larger 4" x 5" - 102 mm x 127 mm size glass slide. The larger format and more powerful throws were intended to provide a luminous ambiance to larger theatre environments, especially those of the Movie Palaces. Special designs were produced for curtain arrangements, proscenium features, and ceilings, including "scudding clouds" facilitated by the standard double throw which allowed inventive dissolves and fades by a talented projectionist.
The popularity of the cinema has made motion pictures the largest industry in entertainment. The visual element of cinema needs no translation, giving the motion picture a universal power of communication. As a result, popular movies can become worldwide attractions, especially with the addition of dubbing or translated subtitles to communicate the dialogue. Motion picture actors can become major celebrities and command huge fees for their performances. Already by 1917, Charlie Chaplin had a contract that called for an annual salary of 1 million dollars.
The cost of hiring star performers, along with expenses related to technological advancements, has led cinema production to concentrate under the auspices of movie studios. In the United States, much of the industry is now centered around Hollywood, California. Other regional centers exist in many parts of the world.
With modern technology, digital recording techniques have been applied to both the video and audio aspects of motion pictures. This has produced a gradual movement away from the medium of film.
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