Film Companies


In the early years of cinema, the film industry began in New Jersey. An inventor named William Kennedy Dickson from the Edison Company left in 1895 with several other Edison inventors to incorporate the American Mutoscope Company. The company became global leader in the burgeoning film industry and it was renamed several times before settling as the Biograph Company in 1909. Their first studio was established in Manhattan.

D.W. Griffith joined the company as an actor in 1908 and quickly became the principal director within a matter of months. However after several lawsuits, one from the Edison Company and a major antitrust lawsuit, Biograph fell on hard times and declined in 1915-1916.

Eventually, it became part of the “Edison Trust” or the Motion Picture Patents Company (MPCC) along with several other companies, including Edison, and Vitagraph, among many others before an antitrust lawsuit was filed.


The Big Five

Warner Bros.
The Warner brothers (Jack, Sam, Albert, and Harry) were the children of Polish emigrants fleeing the expansion of the Russian Empire. They were originally soap salesmen from Ohio before investing in the power of nickelodeons by conducting screenings of popular films, The Life of an American Fireman and The Great Train Robbery. They opened their first theatre outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The company continued to grow and in the early 1920s it attracted the attention of Wall Street as Goldman Sachs provided a large loan.

Warner Bros. pioneered the new medium of talkies with the release of The Jazz Singer. By 1929, all major film companies had converted to sound almost overnight.

Paramount Pictures (Famous Players)



Fox Film Corporation


The Little Three:

Universal Pictures

United Artists



Disney Studios