Marketing the Cinématographe

At left is a poster for an early cinématographe presentation. Lumière et fils originally demonstrated its latest product at photography conventions and other industrial venues in order to build up interest in the first public screenings that began in December 1895. In turn, the screenings at the Grand Café were conceived to publicize the new camera-projector and the company’s commercial film stock. The films made by Louis Lumière and those made by the cameramen that he dispatched around the world served the same purpose: to promote the sale of Lumière products. A second wave of publicity entailed a new series of actualités between 1899 and 1901, but Lumière et fils was never fully committed to the commercial exhibition of motion pictures as a business enterprise. The company’s core business was photographic equipment and film stock, and it discontinued film production entirely by 1905.

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