Lubin - Opportunism & Piracy

Intrigued by the success of Edison’s Kinetoscope in the 1890’s, optometrist and opportunist Siegmund “Pop” Lubin got into the moving picture game by creating his own cameras, projectors, studios and theaters to shoot, market and exhibit Lubin films at a lower price point than his competitors Edison and Lumiére.  


1903 Lubin 35mm Cineograph and Lubin Tripod  

Lubin took much of the design of his Cineograph camera / projector directly from the successful Lumière Cinematographe.

This particular Cineograph shot early Lubin films such as The Bold Bank Robbery and Lubin's 1904 recreation of Edison cameraman Edwin S. Porter's iconic 1903 film, The Great Train Robbery.


By the early 1900's, demand for new films to show at storefront nickelodeons was tremendous, and Lubin continued to expand his Philadelphia studios and opened a chain of Cineograph theaters to keep pace.

As competition among rival studios heated up, Lubin's company was known to test the boundaries of what was legal and acceptable at the time. One of the earliest practitioners of film piracy, Lubin’s company thought nothing of selling illegal prints of many notable films, including those of Georges Méliés.

His infamous reproduction of the Corbett and Fitzsimmons Fight, staged and shot on a rooftop with two railroad freight handlers posing as boxers, enraged audiences and led to the creation of early copyright safeguards.