Pictured below is a promotional foldout postcard, sent to a San Bernadino theatre operator in 1907, from the Miles Brothers Exchange. The Miles Brothers Exchange was an industry defining business model that both revolutionized film distribution and made full time movie theatres possible.
In the early 1900′s there was an exploding interest in motion pictures, but exhibitors were having a difficult time successfully running full time cinemas. With film costs high and there often being an erratic supply of new product (especially in areas outside of large cities), most exhibitors were forced to rotate between motion pictures, glass slide presentations, and live performances or operate as traveling tent shows.
Seeing a business opportunity, Harry, Herbert, Joseph, and Earle Miles began purchasing films from production companies, in bulk, and renting them out to theatres on a weekly basis (supplying a new film as each old title was returned); creating the film exchange concept in 1903. This simple idea allowed exhibitors to have a steady supply of films, at one fourth of the cost, and production companies a standardized distribution outlet for their product. In turn, the standardized availability of affordable films made formal movie theatres possible; the nickelodeons, traveling shows, and part time venues gave way to the cinemas we’ve known for the past one hundred years.
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