The Kinetographic Theatre

From 1892-1893, Dickson and Edison produced a vertical-feed motion picture camera (requiring a 1 ½ inch wide film strip); their Kinetoscope began commercial use as a single customer “peepshow” box-like viewing device; and Edison’s company established the Black Maria, a Kinetographic Theatre. The production of Carmencita in 1894 introduced censorship to film, as the scandalous motion picture exposed the legs and undergarments of a dancing woman and was consequently banned in some cases.

Early Kinetoscope parlors—the first of which was opened by the Holland Brothers in New York in 1894—featured short, everyday scenes that people payed five cents to view, such as a dance, a dog chase, or a train approaching. 1896 brought another controversial Edison film, a 20-second short titled The Kiss. This was the first film to feature a couple kissing, and while it sparked controversy it was simultaneously Edison’s most popular film that year.

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