How did more than a hundred traveling shows create a continental mass market for movies?
His SSHRC-funded project, Circuits of Cinema, maps this data to visualize the space and pace of the emerging mass public for movies in the years when the market was still organized by entrepreneurial competitors.
Mapping the most prominent two dozen shows at first reveals a tangle of overlapping routes. On closer inspection, there are clear regional limits to any one show’s route, with some plain geographic boundaries, for example, for the American South, and the entire American West. On closer look, even the Northeast U.S. has boundaries, for example between central Pennsylvania, upstate New York and New England.
Toward a visualization of this conclusion, Moore has selected a “curated” set of traveling shows that best demarcate the tacit regions that collectively constituted a continental mass market for movies. These regions correspond, of course, to prior cultural and socio-economic zones reflected by railway and telegraph companies, metropolitan newspaper circulation, and theatrical routes. They later become recognizable as film exchange territories, reflected in the mutual non-competing concentrations of Hollywood movie theater chains.