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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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George Spoor, George Kleine, and the Rise of the Nickelodeon

George Spoor, George Kleine, and the Rise of the Nickelodeon

(p.53) Chapter Five George Spoor, George Kleine, and the Rise of the Nickelodeon
Flickering Empire

Michael Glover Smith

Adam Selzer

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines the role of George Spoor, George Kleine, and the Nickelodeon in the development of Chicago's film industry. Spoor had a theatrical background that made him a natural for the movie business. His partnership with Edward Amet, a local inventor, is a good illustration of how, in the film industry of the late nineteenth century, the divisions between artist and inventor, scientist and businessman, producer and distributor, were often blurred. The most important development in the film distribution business in the early twentieth century was the founding of “film exchanges.” Kleine had a leg up on the competition in the movie distribution business because he had set up the Kleine Optical Company in Chicago in 1893. The other serious shift that occurred in the film industry in the first decade of the twentieth century was the transition of exhibition away from the vaudeville halls and penny arcades and towards the newly established storefront theaters known as “Nickelodeons.” Once again, Chicago would be at the forefront of this new phenomenon.

Keywords:   film industry, George Spoor, George Kleine, Nickelodeon, Chicago, Edward Amet, film distribution, film exchanges, Kleine Optical Company, storefront theaters

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