Local History of Early Movie Theaters
SacTV.com "Video of the Day" review by
Alex Cosper on Feb. 15, 2012
This documentary traces the history of Sacramento's earliest
movie theaters, beginning in the early 1900s. The research also provides an interesting outline of how the
movie industry evolved in its first generation. Written by Tom Tolley of the Sacramento Public Libary,
this documentary provides a wide collection of pictures, posters and insights. Sacramento had a history
of stage performance dating back to the opening of the Eagle Theatre in 1849. The Clunie Theatre opened
in 1889 and lasted through the 1920s showcasing live entertainment.
After Thomas Edison introduced motion pictures, the Casino Theatre at 119 K Street opened in 1901 and was an early pioneer in presenting
films in Sacramento, which inspired Mike Smith to open the Acme Theatre at 1115 7th Street. The theater from a modern
perspective was more like an arcade full of machines that played motion pictures for a nickel. These venues became
known as Nickelodians. Other theaters that soon appeared included The Novelty Theatre at 603 K Street, The Unique Theatre at 1130 4th Street
and The Art Theater at 222 L Street.
In some ways studying movie history has as much relevance as studying any other kind of history. Movie theaters
certainly had a huge impact on transforming lifestyles, giving people a way to spend time together as
observers of bigger than life imagery on a big screen. By 1905 Nickelodians had become a popular fad. Although Nickelodians
eventually went away, the movie industry was more than a fad and developed into a mega industry.
Of course, once Hollywood became the epicenter of the industry, it overshadowed the concept of regional filmmaking.
What's compelling about local film history is that a lot of it is still buried, waiting to be uncovered.
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