From Peep Show to Picture Palace
The Early Exhibition of Motion Pictures
1. Origins to 1928
2. Origins to 1914
Published Online: 13 NOV 2011
Copyright © Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.
The Wiley-Blackwell History of American Film
How to Cite
Abel, R. 2011. From Peep Show to Picture Palace. The Wiley-Blackwell History of American Film. 1:2:3.
- Published Online: 13 NOV 2011
During the 20-year period from 1894 to 1914, the exhibition of motion pictures underwent an extraordinary transformation. A young man or woman standing in a Kinetoscope parlor, in 1894, viewing a short continuous filmstrip loop in a peephole device would have a very different sense of motion pictures 12 years later, as part of a nickelodeon audience, viewing a series of short films projected on a wall screen. Then again, just eight years later, in 1914, he or she would have an equally different sense of motion pictures as a spectator, sitting comfortably in a palace cinema, engrossed in a feature-length film, accompanied by orchestral music. Yet these three sites — the Kinetoscope parlor, nickelodeon, and palace cinema — hardly convey the wide range of venues, noncommercial as well as commercial, that screened motion pictures during those years. What follows stages a panorama of those venues, moving more or less chronologically through a series of major stages in the transformation of exhibition, and linking those stages to parallel changes in how motion pictures were distributed.
- amusement parks;
- cinema circuits;
- family vaudeville;
- high-class vaudeville;
- nontheatrical venues;
- traveling showmen