Very few people know that the very first time that films were projected, a magic lantern was used as the projector. So the cinema didn't automatically replace the magic lantern. The picture here shows a lantern being used to project a film. When film projectors replaced the lanterns, you would still find a lantern being used in a cinema. They showed the still advertisements before the film, gave information on forthcoming programmes, and were also used to put up words for songs, which were sung to the accompaniment of the cinema organ.
Magic lantern shows continued to happen in village halls, particularly as entertainments for children, and there are lots of people still around who can remember them. Try asking your oldest relatives and see what they remember. Lanterns were also used for teaching, until the electric slide projector was developed in the 1950s. Nowadays, lantern shows are becoming popular again, and there is even a society devoted to the magic lantern. You can visit its website at magiclantern.org.uk.
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