January 1897: Biograph Branches Out
1897 shaped up to be another successful year for the American Mutoscope and Biograph Co. Following their successful run at Koster & Bial, the Biograph moved to Keith’s Union Square Theatre, to whom it remained the sole supplier of films for the next eight years.
The company soon began to cast its eye further afield, and in January 1897, Elias Koopman came to England to oversee the introduction of the ‘American Biograph’ – the projector was given the ‘American’ sobriquet to avoid confusion with the French model – at the Palace Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue in March. One of the films shown on that inaugural night was of Eugene Sandow’s, ‘Muscular Exhibition’. The show ran for five years, and a film was actually made in 1897 of “The genial manager of the Palace Theatre, London, bowing in response to a curtain call”
Koopman would remain in Britain to become Managing Director of the British Mutoscope and Biograph Company, and W.K.L. Dickson would return to England in May with his wife and his sister, Antonia. Despite his key involvement in the development of the company, Dickson was never offered a senior position and took up a post as Technical Manager and cameraman for the newly-formed British arm of the organisation. From his return to Britain, Dickson would spend much of his time travelling throughout Europe filming scenes for the company.
In December, the British arm of the organisation built a film studio at Adelphi Arches at the rear of the Tivoli Theatre in the Strand in Central London. The studio’s stage had removable glass walls and could be rocked for effect, and rotated to catch the sunlight. [ADD]
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