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Flickering EmpireHow Chicago Invented the U.S. Film Industry$
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Michael Glover Smith and Adam Selzer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231174497

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231174497.001.0001

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The Decline of the Chicago Studios

The Decline of the Chicago Studios

(p.147) Chapter Twelve The Decline of the Chicago Studios
Flickering Empire

Michael Glover Smith

Adam Selzer

Columbia University Press

This chapter focuses on the decline of film studios in Chicago during the early twentieth century. The story of the decline of the major Chicago studios such as Essanay Film Manufacturing Company and Selig Polyscope is inextricably tied to that of the decline of Thomas Edison's Motion Picture Patents Company (MPPC), also known as the Edison Trust. The MPPC first ran into serious trouble in February 1911 when Eastman Kodak, exploiting a loophole in its contract, began selling film stock to unlicensed independent companies. By this time, the independents had started to fight back in earnest against the Trust by organizing themselves into something called the Motion Picture Distribution and Sales Company. The next blow to the Trust came in August 1912 when the Supreme Court reversed its decision to uphold the Biograph Company's patent on the Latham film loop. The Trust became increasingly embattled as more lawsuits were filed against it. The final nail in the coffin came on October 1, 1915 when a federal court decided that the MPPC had violated the Sherman Antitrust Act.

Keywords:   film studios, Chicago, Essanay Film Manufacturing Company, Selig Polyscope, Motion Picture Patents Company, Edison Trust, lawsuits, Thomas Edison, Sherman Antitrust Act

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