Volume 2, Issue 1 (Originally Published 23 July 2016)
July 23, 1926 – Fox Film buys patents for recording sound on film
On this day in 1926, Fox Film Corporation (now 20th Century Fox) bought the patents relating to the ‘sound-on-film process’ developed by sound film system inventor Theodore Case. Case designed a method whereby sound for a motion picture could be recorded directly onto the photographic film carrying the correlating image, perfecting the synchronisation between sound and picture. The sound was recorded as a variable-density optical track, which can still be played on projectors to this day.
Fox Film’s legendary founder William Fox secured the patents to Movietone and partnered with Case to form the Fox-Case Corporation, making it Hollywood’s third largest film studio and the only movie studio to have commercial ownership over sound-on-film technology. Case continued to work with Fox to refine the process, which would eventually become known as the ‘Fox Movietone’ sound system. This would be used to create the first ever feature film with an actual sound track, Sunrise (1927).
This crucial innovation spurred intense competition with other major movie studios, prompting Paramount, MGM and Universal Studios to move away from silent films and invest in producing their own sound technology systems. By the early 1930s, ‘talkies’ – talking pictures – had virtually replaced silent films in the US, thus consolidating Hollywood’s position as one of the world’s most powerful players in the history of the entertainment industry.
To learn more, visit http://www.movietonews.com/the_fox_movietone_newsreel.html Curious about the first sound film, Sunrise? Check out its 8.3/100 IMDB rating at: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0018455/