Cinema as the mass culture art form that we know today began with technological advances in French photography by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1827 and Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre in 1837. By 1895, Auguste and Louis Lumière screened their first moving pictures. These silent moving pictures were usually accompanied by a live musical performance and quickly became popular but nonetheless minor attractions that were added to vaudeville shows; vaudeville being, at the time, the dominant theatrical medium.

With the onset of World War I, many Europeans fled the fighting in Europe to make a new life in the United States. These European immigrants brought cinema with them, and soon penny theater venues known as nickelodeons appeared throughout America. Unlike vaudeville shows, which treated cinema as a passing novelty ...

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