Enforcing the monopoly

Ad by Martin Dentler.1

Das Salamander-Kino brachte vom 4. bis 6. Januar meinen Monopol-Film „Glimmende Gluten“ zur Vorführung, obschon genanntes Theater nicht im Besitze des Vorführungsrechtes war.
Ich erkläre hiermit ausdrücklich, dass nur das Lichtspiel-Theater im Alleinbesitz des Vorführungsrechtes war und allein berechtigt war, mein oben genannten Monopol-Film vorzuführen.
Es war dem Salamander-Kino nur durch 3. Personen möglich, sich in dem Besitz meines Monopol-Films zu setzen. –
Braunschweig, den 5. Februar 1913.
Martin Dentler.

This ad was commissioned by Martin Dentler the well known distributor from Brunswick. It was printed on February 8, 1913, in a local newspaper published in a town called Velbert. The city is located in the vicinity of Essen halfway to Wuppertal. The ad was placed by Martin Dentler on the occasion of an incident that occurred roughly a month prior. The bone of contention was an ad or rather two published on January 4, 1913, in the very same newspaper.

Ads by Salamander-Kinematograph and Lichtspiel-Theater.2

Side by side two equally sized ads are placed on the lower part of the page. On the left the ad for the Salamander-Kinematograph and on the right the one for the Lichtspiel-Theater. Each cinema promoted three films. The ads are printed in the same manner: The typefaces used for the film titles are consistent across both ads. Aside from the header both ads appear to be similar in layout. This might be the typesetters fault as those ads were printed using metal type. Each typeface and font size had to be sourced from a drawer thus switching typefaces and font sizes was literally heavy work. Doing a much as possible utilising the same typeface and font size quickend the work. Since the content of the order for the ad isn‘t known the use of similar layouts might as well be purposely wished by any of the two cinemas.

Apart from the layout what is most striking is the way both cinemas promote the same film. Glimmende Gluten is described by the Salamander-Kinematograph as a sensational and exciting drama with no special rights applicable (described as Allgemeines Vorführungsrecht). On the other hand the Lichtspiel-Theater claimed to had the exclusive rights (Alleiniges Vorführungsrecht) for the city for this exciting drama. While the Lichtspiel-Theater assumed exclusivity with their choice it was annulled by the Salamander-Kinematograph‘s illegitimate offering.

The ad from February 8, 1913, therefore addresses this situation. The text from the ad by Dentler said that the Salamander-Kinematograph screened his film Glimmende Gluten even though the cinema did not own the exclusive rights to do so. Those were sold to the Lichtspiel-Theater by Dentler. Dentler mentioned that three culprits had been identified who enabled the Salamander-Kinematograph to unrightfully screen the film.

Why was it necessary for Dentler to publish a statement in a local newspaper in the first place? Dentler distributed a share of his films as exclusive offerings (Monopolfilm). With this offering he guaranteed exclusivity. Exclusivity was gained by simply writing the order to him:

Wollen Sie eine Woche konkurrenzlos dastehen,
so mieten Sie „Glimmende Gluten“ und schreiben Sie an:
Martin Dentler, Braunschweig, Autorstrasse 3.3

So Dentler‘s ad must have been an attempt to openly address the situation that his essential promise of exclusivity was unrightfully bypassed by making his client and himself the victim of the action of a small group.


Enforcing the monopoly was a key to nourish it. Therefore the mechanism in doing so are of great interest. Albeit Martin Dentler openly denounced the actions of the Salamander-Kinematograph it is not known whether subsequent actions had been taken to confine any threats to his business model. At least to possibilities arise:

  1. The Lichtspiel-Theater might have asked for refund due to the certain financial losses. Since the ads for the film promised exclusivity a compensation seems likely.
  2. Since Dentler claimed to have identified three culprits due to whose actions the film was shown at the Salamander-Kinematograph. If the renter of the copy that was screened at Salamander-Kinematograph signed a contract with Martin Dentler or Hanewacker & Scheler as official distributor for Berlin and Leipzig a contractual penalty might have been due. It is not known if Martin Dentler or Hanewacker & Scheler issued such contracts to renters of Monopolfilms and if so what the conditions were. Either way Dentler must have ensured that the culprits must have been punished in any way for example by declining any future business with people responsible.


The image used is licensed under Public Domain Mark 1.0 as stated by the provider Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek.


The Newspaper can be accessed on the zeit.punktNRW. The film trade journal is available at Internet Archive.

  1. Martin Dentler (1913, February 8). [Advertisement]. Velberter Zeitung, 32(33), 2. Retrieved from https://zeitpunkt.nrw/ulbbn/periodical/zoom/1314671 ↩︎

  2. Salamander-Kinematograph/Lichtspiel-Theater (1913, February 8). [Advertisement]. Velberter Zeitung, 32(3), 4. Retrieved from https://zeitpunkt.nrw/ulbbn/periodical/zoom/1314516 ↩︎

  3. Martin Dentler (1912, September 14). [Advertisement]. Lichtbild-Bühne, 6(37), 41. Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/lichtbildbuhne-1912-09/page/n110/mode/1up?view=theater ↩︎

One response to “Enforcing the monopoly”

  1. […] Some newspaper articles8 where the case was reported speculated about the motive and all suggest that it was the intention to sell the film to countries where the rights hadn‘t been sold already. Especially due to the huge costs of the rights an illegal copy was quite valuable in foreign countries. For the German market the copy itself probably had no substantial value since distributors tend to learn about illegitimate screenings as showcased in Enforcing the monopoly. […]

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