Promoting the Vitascope

As this image from the Vitascope Co. letterhead indicates, the promoters of the new entertainment conceived it as a medium for exciting large audiences seated in auditoriums. The most logical venue, therefore, was the vaudeville theater, where, beginning in 1896, managers started showing about a dozen one-minute films as a single vaudeville “turn” among all the other offerings on the bill. Ironically, Vitascope’s marketing strategy, which was based on state-by-state distribution, failed to address the needs of vaudeville theaters, which were expanding by means of interstate circuits, and would ultimately play a key role in the company’s demise.

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