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Public demand for movies shrinks legitimate theatre

Photo caption: Silent movie signs

The movies hastened the decline in the number of road shows in the U. S. and Canada.  Producers and theatre owners alike wanted to tap into the gigantic collective purse of the movie-going public.

As legitimate theatre shrank in cities like Chicago, Philadelphia, New York and Denver, IA members transitioned from the stage to the screen.  Calcium light operators took projectionist jobs.  Stagehands became department heads in the film production companies, and brought their union brothers to fill jobs on the set.

While New York City was the core of film production, other studios were quickly established in places such as Chicago, Florida, New Orleans and Philadelphia.  Movies needed to be duplicated and transported from city to city.  Film exchanges for the rental and distribution of moving pictures filled this need, staffed by workers who became members of the Alliance.

In the early days, projectionists were expected to take the film back and forth from the exchange, put up posters before the show, take them down afterward and even sweep out the theatre.  They worked seven days a week, for an average pay of $10 a week.

Gradually, the Alliance improved the conditions of its projectionists, especially as their numbers grew.  The strength and power of the projectionists would stand the Alliance in good stead in later years.

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