May 20, 1891: Inventor Thomas Edison gives the first public demonstration of his kinetoscope, which allowed one viewer at a time to watch a three-second film of a man bowing and waving.
May 17, 1912: Carl Laemmle oversees the merger of a number of independent production companies to form Universal Manufacturing Company.
May 18, 1912: The first feature film from what would go on to be a burgeoning cinema industry in India, Pundalik, opens in Bombay.
May 20, 1926: Thomas Edison says that audiences will prefer silent movies over experimental talking pictures.
May 19, 1927: Grauman’s Chinese Theater opens in Hollywood. The first film: The King of Kings. The first star to officially leave their footprints in cement: Norma Talmadge.
May 20, 1928: Buster Keaton’s final silent comedy as an independent filmmaker, Steamboat Bill, Jr., opens.
May 21, 1942: For the first time, James Cagney attends the premiere of one of his films: the patriotic song-and-dance extravaganza Yankee Doodle Dandy.
May 22, 1949: His work on A Letter to Three Wives lands Joseph L. Mankiewicz the first Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Director–Feature Film.
May 21, 1952: Within one month of his appearance before the House Un-American Activities Committee, John Garfield dies of a heart attack at age 39.
May 21, 1958: An apparently unimpressed Universal opens Orson Welles’ since-heralded Touch of Evil on a double bill on neighborhood screens.
May 20, 1970: A month after The Beatles announced their break-up, their film Let It Be premieres in London.
May 23, 1980: “Heeeere’s Johnny!” Stanley Kubrick’s filming of the Stephen King thriller The Shining opens.
May 21, 1981: The board of Transamerica Corp., owners of United Artists since 1967, agrees to sell the ailing production company to MGM for a reported $380 million.
May 21, 1983: The concluding film in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, Return of the Jedi, debuts.
May 20, 1988: Computer-generated “morphing” effects are used for the first time in director Ron Howard’s fantasy-adventure Willow.
May 21, 1991: Actor Mickey Rourke tries his hand at boxing in Florida, defeating Steve Powell by unanimous decision.
May 23, 1993: The surreal, cyberpunk fantasy Wax, Or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees becomes the first film to be transmitted over the Internet.
May 23, 1994: Quentin Tarantino‘s violent drama Pulp Fiction wins the Palme d’Or at Cannes, and will go on to reignite the flagging career of co-star John Travolta.
May 19, 1999: The long-awaited Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace sets an opening day box office record of $28.5 million.
May 21, 2000: Academy Award-winning British actor Sir John Gielgud (Arthur, Gandhi) dies at age 96.
May 19, 2005: The second “Star Wars” trilogy comes to a close with the debut of Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
May 19, 2006: The Da Vinci Code, starring Tom Hanks and based on the controversial Dan Brown bestseller, opens.
May 22, 2008: Harrison Ford picks up the fedora for the first time in 19 years to star in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.