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Such notables as Mary Pickford got their start at Biograph Studios. The film patents wars of the early 20th century led to the spread of film companies across the US Many worked with equipment for which they did not own the rights and thus filming in New York could be dangerous; it was close to Edison's Company headquarters, and to agents the company set out to seize cameras. Griffith was sent by the Biograph Company to the west coast with his acting troupe, consisting of actors Blanche Sweet, Lillian Gish, Mary Pickford, Lionel Barrymore and others.In New York, the Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, was built during the silent film era, was used by the Marx Brothers and W. By 1912, most major film companies had set up production facilities in Southern California near or in Los Angeles because of the region's favorable year-round weather. They started filming on a vacant lot near Georgia Street in downtown Los Angeles.The industry got its start at the end of the 19th century with the construction of Thomas Edison's "Black Maria", the first motion-picture studio in West Orange, New Jersey.The cities and towns on the Hudson River and Hudson Palisades offered land at costs considerably less than New York City across the river and benefited greatly as a result of the phenomenal growth of the film industry at the turn of the 20th century.The first recorded instance of photographs capturing and reproducing motion was a series of photographs of a running horse by Eadweard Muybridge, which he took in Palo Alto, California using a set of still cameras placed in a row.Muybridge's accomplishment led inventors everywhere to attempt to make similar devices.
In the 1910s and 1920s, film companies such as the Independent Moving Pictures Company, Peerless Studios, The Solax Company, Éclair Studios, Goldwyn Picture Corporation, American Méliès (Star Films), World Film Company, Biograph Studios, Fox Film Corporation, Pathé Frères, Metro Pictures Corporation, Victor Film Company, and Selznick Pictures Corporation were all making pictures in Fort Lee. Other major centers of film production also included Chicago, Texas, California, and Cuba.
In 1894, the world's first commercial motion-picture exhibition was given in New York City, using Thomas Edison's kinetoscope.
The United States produced the world's first sync-sound musical film, The Jazz Singer, in 1927, and was at the forefront of sound-film development in the following decades. Griffith was central to the development of a film grammar.
Nestor Studios, owned by David and William Horsley, later merged with Universal Studios; and William Horsley's other company, Hollywood Film Laboratory, is now the oldest existing company in Hollywood, now called the Hollywood Digital Laboratory.
California's more hospitable and cost-effective climate led to the eventual shift of virtually all filmmaking to the West Coast by the 1930s.