True to the essence of the Wild West, the early Hollywood film makers were there to escape the law. The Thomas Edison studio, based in the east, owned almost all the patents relevant to motion picture production and so independent movie producers were almost always sued by Edison, making it difficult or impossible for aspiring movie makers. California provided enough distance that notice could arrive ahead of Edison’s agents, giving the illicit movie team time to escape to Mexico.
Another bonus for these early movie bandits was that even though electric lights were invented, they still weren’t strong enough to develop film. Movie reels were processed with good old-fashioned day light – of which SoCo had an abundance.
By 1911 there were more than 15 independent movie studios replacing the old lemon and orange groves separating Hollywood from Los Angeles. Word had spread about the endless sunshine and variety of landscapes, prompting established motion picture production companies from New York and New Jersey to move to California.
In 1918 the opening of one of the first movie palaces built in the US, the 2,345 seat “Million Dollar Theatre” firmly planted LA into movie history.