Top 5 Moments in the History of Cinema

Movie projector rolling in dark room

Today’s moviegoers have pretty high expectations when it comes to the cinema experience. From reclining theatre seats to high-end food options to the latest visual and sound technologies, it seems that no stone has been left unturned in today’s modern movie theaters. While it seems like the movie theaters of years past could never compare to the comforts and technologies available today, the experience has always been built around giving patrons a reason to leave the house and see the latest films. Here, we will take a look back at the history of cinema and how it has evolved with technology and customer expectations to become what it is today.

Since moving pictures were first introduced, people have been fascinated by storytelling brought to life on screen. Not only do movies provide entertainment and a welcome break from the stress of everyday life – they help moviegoers feel an emotional connection to others through important story arcs and character development. This new type of experience moved people to rush to the theaters time and time again. Then, things changed with the introduction of television, a concept that allowed people to experience the same type of visual storytelling from home (albeit on much smaller screens). Even so, the magic of the cinema was now competing with the comforts of home, and in order for theaters to survive, they would have to up the game and give patrons good reasons to buy tickets.

Since then, the magic of cinema has moved beyond storytelling into full sensory experiences that include advanced comfort seating, elevated food and beverage options, and state-of-the-art projection and sound technology. Read on for a recap of 5 key moments that brought us from the first motion picture to the radically enhanced experience of today.

1891: The Invention of the Kinetoscope

The Edison Company successfully demonstrated a prototype of the Kinetoscope, an early motion picture device designed for films to be viewed by one individual at a time through a peephole viewer window at the top of the device. While this was not an actual movie projector, it did create the basic approach for cinematic projection.

The original Kinetoscope

1895: The Cinema Concept is Born

The Lumiere brothers were the first to show moving pictures to a paying audience in December 1895 in Paris. Their groundbreaking invention, the Cinematographe, was a “three-in-one” device that could record, develop, and project motion pictures – making it the world’s first film camera. The brothers used this to shoot footage of what we would now consider mundane, everyday activities – but this was revolutionary to the public back then.

Illustration of the emulsion process at the Lumiere Brothers' factory, circa 1894

The 1930s: The Golden age of Cinema

By the early 1930s, most feature-length films were presented with sound, and by the mid-1930s, some were also in full color. This led to cinema becoming the most popular form of entertainment and the rise of the modern celebrity, with actors such as Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall becoming household names – and tabloid fodder.

Old Hollywood starlet poses for glamorous photo

1953: Introducing CinemaScope

The French physicist Henri Chreien forever changed cinema with his invention of the CinemaScope filmmaking process in the late 1920s. This technique uses a special lens to fit a wide picture onto standard 35mm film, then uses a special projection lens to restore image clarity for widescreen expansion, without distorting the image proportions. As groundbreaking as this was, the technology was mostly ignored until introduced on the big screen in 1953 by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation. Within several years, most major films were shot for widescreen projection.

Empty modern day movie theater with widescreen

2008: The Luxury Recliner Chair Concept is Introduced

While the ways films were shot and shown continued to advance from the introduction of CinemaScope through 2008, very little changed when it came to the cinema experience for moviegoers. In fact, theatre patrons typically sat in the same types of seats and enjoyed the same type of concessions that people did back in the silent film era! All of that changed in 2008 when VIP Cinema Seating introduced a new type of cinema seating concept that would revolutionize the experience – and patron expectations – forever. The concept proposed that fewer, but better, seats would drive theatre traffic and revenue as more theatres found themselves competing with home-streaming services and other forms of entertainment. Today, VIP Cinema Seating has installed more than 1 million of their seats across the globe, helping theatre owners to drive more traffic, increase concession sales, and maximize profits – proving that when the experience is great, people will head out to the cinema.

Two friends at the movie theater sitting in reclining chairs enjoying food and drinks

The Evolution of Cinema Continues

It’s truly amazing to take a walk back through the history of cinema to learn how movies came to be and how the theatre experience evolved into what it is today. We are proud to be part of an industry that brings innovative storytelling to moviegoers and to provide them with revolutionary seating options that make their experiences unforgettable. There’s no doubt that the innovations will continue in the cinema industry, and we remain dedicated to always looking for what’s next to help our partners grow their bottom lines.

Do you want to be part of a radically enhanced cinema experience? Contact us today to find out how we can help transform your theatre and grow your bottom line.