The First Permanent Cinemas

In the fall of 1903, F.P.J. Goeman showed films a few times a week in the Tivoli-Wintertuin (Tivoli-Wintergarten) in Rotterdam. The films were screened using The Royal Bioscope. For the first time, one could speak of autonomous film exhibition in a permanent venue on a regular basis. 

First steps

Starting in the winter of 1904-1905, the Mullens brothers (Alberts Frères) showed films for an artists’ society in The Hague called the Haagse Kunstkring. For a number of weeks in December and January, they screened their films several times a week, year after year. These were the first indications of a shift in exhibition practices, and the first steps toward permanent cinemas. 

This change was seen abroad as early as 1905, where permanent cinemas first began to appear in the major cities. At first these were small theatres (illustrated by the German term Laden-Kino, which refers to the fact that these were often renovated shopfronts) where people could see a film programme for a small admission fee (the American word ‘nickelodeon’ refers to the admission price of a nickel).  

Major changes

Along with the arrival of cinemas, there was also a major change in the existing film trade. In order to acquire affordable films, cinema owners started reselling films among themselves. They bought films already screened by other showmen and resold them after they had finished screening them. This was the start of film markets, where showmen and cinema owners bought and sold each others’ films. The next step was that independent film traders started buying and renting films out to third parties. This is how film distribution began.

First cinemas open

The first Dutch cinema was opened in 1906 in the Damstraat in Amsterdam. It was a small theatre run by an American living in Berlin by the name of Andrew Rawson Jennings. It’s likely that Jennings brought his films in from other countries, as there was no film rental to speak of in the Netherlands at that time.

F.A. Nöggerath, sen. was among the first entrepreneurs to open a cinema. On 7 September 1907, the Bioscope Theater was formally opened for business. Unlike other cinema owners, Nöggerath had no trouble getting his hands on movies; he was The Warwick Trading Company’s representative and resold films to third parties.

When film distribution finally started in the Netherlands in 1909-1910, showmen could affordably acquire films. From that time on, cinemas were started up with regularity, creating a cinema ‘boom’ in the Netherlands – only a few years behind its neighbours.


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