The Beginnings of Cinema in Marseille

Edison Kinetoscope

The Edison Kinetoscope

On June 29th, 1895, the Edison Kinetoscope was presented at the Noailles brewery. Against all odds, the event went unnoticed as the locals didn’t seem to be interested in looking through this strange binocular – even for the small fee of 25 cents. Paradoxically less than a year later, they would however applaud a series of short films by film pioneer Louis Lumière.

The first “movie theater”, Le Nouveau Théâtre (New Theatre) opened downtown, rue Noailles, on October 14th, 1899 to commemorate Marseille’s 25th centenary. Using the American phono-cinema-theater system Bioscop which combined a projector with an almost inaudible cylinder phonograph, the theater screened groundbreaking French filmmaker Georges Méliès’ Cinderella, which captivated spectators.

Inspired by the Parisian furniture manufacturer Dufayet, the men’s clothing store Dewarchter, then located on the famous Canebière avenue, used the process as an advertising tool. The same year, two dual movie houses opened, les Fantaisies Féeriques and le Merveilleux Théâtre, with programs that alternated between projections such as Méliès’s Christmas Rose and music hall performances.

back to Provence Movies featureIn 1906, the first Colonial Exposition took place in Marseille, hosting an outdoor cinema, while the  Indo-Chinese section showcasd projections about life in the French colonies. That same year, the multipurpose auditorium Eldorado opened on the Place Castellane with an innovative system enabling the synchronization of sound and image – Méliès’ Les quatre cents coups du diable was shown there for 8 months. The following year, the new Eden theater raised the bar using the latest technology and accompanying each screening with a live orchestra and singer. Other theaters would follow this trend including the Modern (future Rialto) and the Femina and pretty soon, more movie theaters would start popping up all over town.

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Fred Thom

Fred Thom

Editor-in-Chief/Founder/Film Critic at Plume Noire
The founder and editor-in-chief of Plume Noire, Fred Thom covers film festivals and writes movie reviews. He was born in Marseilles, France and is now living in Los Angeles, California.
Fred Thom

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