Siegmund Lubin was an American businessman and motion picture pioneer.
Born Siegmund Lubszynski in Breslau, Silesia, Germany, to a German Jewish family, in 1876 he emigrated to the United States, where he became a successful optical shop owner in the city of Philadelphia. His business led to a fascination with Thomas Edison’s new motion picture invention, and eventually Lubin entered the film business. He started by making his own camera/projector combination, which he sold with reasonable success. However, in 1896 he began distributing films for Edison, including the famous The Kiss. The following year, Lubin started making films himself and in 1902 formed the Lubin Manufacturing Company, incorporating it in 1909. America’s insatiable appetite for film entertainment saw Lubin quickly build a massive filmmaking empire. By 1910 his company had constructed “Lubinville,” one of the largest and most modern film studios in the world. Headquartered in Philadelphia, the company had secondary studios around the United States and became a major force in the domestic and international film industry.
However, the company’s downfall came even faster than its meteoric rise. Its slowness relative to its competitors in shifting to quality feature-length films, plus a disastrous fire at its main studio in June 1914 that destroyed the negatives for a number of unreleased new films, severely hurt the business. When World War I broke out in Europe in September of that year, Lubin Studios, and other American filmmakers, lost a large source of income from these foreign sales. The dissolution of the Motion Picture Patents Company spelled the end of Lubin’s business, and after making more than a thousand motion pictures, on September