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Nickelodeon

NICKELODEON

NICKELODEON, an early type of motion picture theater, so named for its five-cent admission price. ("Odeon" is derived from a Greek term for theater.) Nickelodeons were preceded by penny arcades, where patrons peered through viewers at short moving pictures. The arrival of narrative-style films, like Edwin Porter's famous 12-minute The Great Train Robbery (1903), created the need for a new form of presentation. The name "nickelodeon" is usually credited to entrepreneurs John Harris and Harry Davis, who in 1905 opened a simple theater in Pittsburgh where projected films were accompanied by piano. By 1910, thousands of nickelodeons had appeared nationwide, many of them little more than converted storefronts with wooden benches for seating. Nickelodeons often repeated the same films all day and evening, and were popular with working-class patrons who could not afford live theater, the leading entertainment of the day. The success of nickelodeons increased demand for more and better movies, leading in turn to the creation of new motion picture studios and helping establish film as a mass entertainment medium. Ironically, that rising popularity led to the end of nickelodeons, as they were replaced by larger, custom-built movie theaters. "Nickelodeon" later also became a term for a coin-operated musical jukebox.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bowers, Q. David. Nickelodeon Theaters and Their Music. Vestal, N.Y.: Vestal Press, 1986.

Mast, Gerald, and Bruce F. Kawin. A Short History of the Movies. 7th ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1999. For scholars and serious buffs.

Naylor, David. Great American Movie Theaters. Washington, D.C.: Preservation Press, 1987.

Ryan F.Holznagel

See alsoFilm .

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nickelodeon

nick·el·o·de·on / ˌnikəˈlōdēən/ • n. 1. inf., dated a jukebox, originally one operated by the insertion of a nickel coin. 2. hist. a movie theater with an admission fee of one nickel.

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