History of 20th Century Fox

Surrealism Film - 20th Century Fox

Just like Carl Laemmle, another distributor was inspired by the easy money that came with creating movie theatres all over the USA. His name was William Fox. Having been an immigrant from Hungary, Fox lived a hard life, from selling stove blackings door to door, to selling clothes in a shop. Eventually, he saved up enough money to invest in his own business and bought a penny arcade in Brooklyn.

He didn’t stop there. Living in America at the height of the moving pictures hype, Fox saw the potential in exhibiting films, just like Carl Laemmle, and so he fitted a small theatre above his arcade, hoping that after they watched the film, they’d be tempted to play the machines. At first, hardly anyone was interested. His establishment was small and didn’t really appeal to the people that passed by.

However, after consulting a colleague, whom he’d worked with before, he realised he needed something to draw in the crowd. So with the help of a “ballyhoo”, who would attract customers into the building, his synergised business soon became a hit and was bombarded by audiences all over the city. After five years from the opening of his business, Fox earned approximately $250,000 compared to the $1,600 he used to set it up. Thus the current form of cinema was born. Installing a theatre behind an arcade was the small push Fox needed, to get people to watch his films.

The Rise and Fall

With the success his first theatre raked in, he started buying up more all over New York, and by setting up his own distribution company, the Greater New York Film Exchange, Fox began distributing films all over the city, until one day the Trust (MPPC) came to see him. As they did with Carl Laemmle, they wanted to buy out his business. Of course, like any businessman worth his salt, he refused, but in doing so, the Trust took away his license, after outrageously showing his films in a brothel.

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