Modern Hollywood was started by a group of independent filmmakers who moved to California in the 1910s to get away from Thomas Edison’s total monopoly on all aspects (scripts, cameras, theaters, actors) of the early, east coast film industry.

The Renegade Roots of Hollywood Studios

Carl Laemmle had heard enough. The 5-foot-2-inch German immigrant was the little guy in more ways than one, but he wasn’t going to let bigwigs—not even an American icon like Thomas Edison—tell him how to run his business.

Laemmle loved the movie business. He had quit his job in 1906 and sank his family’s $3,000 savings into opening a Chicago nickelodeon where he screened motion pictures for five cents a head. Nine months after his theater’s opening, Laemmle was making $6,000 a week. He expanded into film distribution and was living his dream, even earning enough to take his family on a four-month European vacation.

Not long after he returned, however, a sea change swept over the film industry, which for nearly a decade had been embr… Continue Reading (4 minute read)

10 thoughts on “Modern Hollywood was started by a group of independent filmmakers who moved to California in the 1910s to get away from Thomas Edison’s total monopoly on all aspects (scripts, cameras, theaters, actors) of the early, east coast film industry.”

  1. rtphokie

    California’s clear skies we’re also beneficial to those early films which required insanely bright lighting. Early studios had glass roofs to allow in as much sunlight as possible

  2. Retro_D

    I feel like history doesnt talk about how much of a total asshat Edison was. Instead they applaud him for his “inventions” that he blatantly stole and only received credit because he patented them first.

  3. zacheryed

    I recently watched a YouTube video by a channel called Economics explained about this. Basically they were like “come over here and take your royalties” and because his business was NY based, they just…let it go until Hollywood became Hollywood.

    The most interesting part for me was that Hollywood was the get rich quick scheme of CA that plugged the gap between the Gold Rush and the Tech Boom. I never realized how much CA as a state has been dependent on an ever constant migration of people looking for quick wealth.

  4. MitchHedberg

    And antisemitism. That’s why many film studios and executives are still Jewish to this day. It’s not a global conspiracy, many talented Jewish directors and producers moved out west and kick started the industry. It makes sense that much of the legacy and family ties still holds a disproportionate influence today.

  5. Wilhelm_Amenbreak

    I would love a dramatization of that time. Kinda like Mank but a couple decades earlier.

  6. Chaosrayne9000

    Breaking News: Thomas Edison briefly returns from the grave to take credit for the founding of Hollywood!

  7. Dog1234cat

    Yes. But let’s not dismiss how important regular and consistent bright sunlight was given the limits of film stock and lighting at the time (and it’s still important). You can fake rain but faking a sunny day outdoors is trickier.

  8. GreatNorthWeb

    …history loves to hate edison but the good climate and sunshine had *a lot* to do with that industry. The conditions for filming in Cali are just better.

  9. floridawhiteguy

    What’s the best way to deal with a monopoly? Create a new one to take its place!

  10. FX114

    Edison would send thugs out to Hollywood, and they’d meet up in Mexico where they’d have shootouts.

Leave a Comment