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But the Laemmle name had not died; it is now associated with exhibition, thus bringing the Laemmle saga full circle since it was in exhibition that Carl began in 1906. (source: City of Dreams: The Making and Remaking of Universal Pictures, 2015)

Because of the relative clause whose apparent function is to specify with "that Carl began in 1906," I was certain this sentence from a book was missing an article and should read instead:

But the Laemmle name had not died; it is now associated with exhibition, thus bringing the Laemmle saga full circle since it was in an/the exhibition that Carl began in 1906.

Now I feel less certain as I am not sure if "in exhibition" is a set phrase. Is the sentence at issue missing an article? Related: "in exhibition"?

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  • @HotLicks I am halfway through typing up another question. My issue is I am not familiar with "in exhibition". I would always use "on exhibition". My own research on Google Ngrams and Google Books is inconclusive, showing "in exhibition" being far less common. I am not sure "in exhibition" means exactly the same as "on exhibition".
    – Eddie Kal
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 2:00
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    "In exhibition" (or "on exhibition") can mean "being exhibited" vs referring to a specific venue or event. However, the trailing "that Carl began in 1906" confounds things. Most likely this is an editing error -- the trailing phrase was added in a late editing and the syntax was not adjusted accordingly.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 2:01
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    Perhaps “in exhibition” is like “in sales”—a description of an occupation. You’d need more background to know what Carl was doing in 1906.
    – Xanne
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 2:18
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    Carl L. has. Wikipedia page. He bought a theater in Chicago in 1906 and began exhibiting films. Thus, he began in exhibition in 1906. . . .so I think we’re getting there. @HotLicks
    – Xanne
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 2:23
  • //But the Laemmle name had not died; it is now associated with exhibitions, thus bringing the Laemmle saga the full circle since it was in exhibition that Carl began in 1906. (source: City of Dreams: The Making and Remaking of Universal Pictures, 2015)// The first use exhibition should be exhibitions; Else it sounds fine, except that the sentence is a little longer than it can be. It is in/on exhibition sounds OK because it sounds like a phrase.
    – Ram Pillai
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 2:25

1 Answer 1

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No, there's no article missing here.

Rather than referring to some specific exhibition of a particular film, the author is using the word "exhibition" to refer in a general way to the practice or business of exhibiting motion pictures in movie theaters. "The Laemmle name is now associated with exhibition" means that the name is associated with exhibition as opposed to production or some other facet of the motion-picture industry (such as marketing, distribution, etc.). "It was in exhibition that Carl began in 1906" means that Carl Laemmle began his involvement in the motion-picture industry by exhibiting movies – that is, by owning and/or operating one or more movie theaters. The part about "bringing the Laemmle saga full circle" clearly implies that at some point between 1906 and the present, Carl Laemmle and/or someone else who bore the Laemmle name got involved in some aspect of the industry other than exhibition.

A quick Wikipedia search confirms that Carl Laemmle did in fact establish one of the first movie theatres in Chicago in 1906, and that he later founded Universal Pictures and "produced or worked on over 400 films." So he was in exhibition, and then he got involved in production. I don't see anything that sheds any light on how the Laemmle name became associated with exhibition again, bringing the saga full circle, but it's easy enough to imagine any number of scenarios. (Perhaps his great-granddaughter is the CEO of a company that operates a chain of theaters, or maybe some hipster in Chicago has named a theater in Carl's honor, and is at this very moment serving artisanal popcorn in bags that bear his name and likeness.)

Addendum:

It has been suggested, in a comment, that this usage of "began in exhibition" is unidiomatic. That is incorrect. The use of "exhibition" to mean "the practice or business of showing motion pictures in movie theaters" may be unfamiliar to some native speakers, but it is quite common in speech and writing that concerns the motion-picture industry, as can be demonstrated easily with a Google search. Accordingly, when speaking or writing of someone who spent his life working in the motion-picture industry, "he began in exhibition" is every bit as idiomatic as any number of comparable phrases that one might use in reference to someone in a different line of work – "he began in manufacturing," "she started out in distribution," "I got my start in sales," etc. That some may find it less familiar than such phrases merely reflects the fact that the exhibition of films is a comparatively niche endeavor. Even so, the following usage examples were not particularly difficult to find:

"In words akin to former Paramount chair Sherry Lansing's tribute to Redstone in the Apr. 6 THR, Viacom President and CEO Philippe Dauman called Redstone 'the King of Content,' and compared him to Adolph Zukor, who also began in exhibition, founding Paramount a century ago." - Tim Appelo, "Sumner Redstone Receives a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame," on hollywoodreporter.com

"Meyer, who began attending Telluride in its second year, technically began in exhibition at age 12 when he started showing silent and foreign films in his family’s Napa barn." - Todd McCarthy, "Telluride's Pence pair pack it in," on variety.com

"It’s not the first time Davies has worked for Paramount, as he previously served as SVP of distribution at Paramount, after joining from DreamWorks Pictures. Davies got his start in exhibition, and the early part of his career saw him holding positions at National Amusements and General Cinema." - Kate Erbland, "Career Moves," on indiewire.com

"Here it is important to note that most of the men who would eventually become moguls of classic Hollywood started out in exhibition." -Jay Douglas Steinmetz, Beyond Free Speech and Propaganda: The Political Development of Hollywood, 1907-1927

"Laemmle started in exhibition in 1906 with a nickolodeon, the White Front, on Milwaukee Avenue." -Bernard F. Dick, That Was Entertainment: The Golden Age of the MGM Musical

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  • So I wonder how this sentence strikes your ear: "You just put some salt in water I left out on the table yesterday." You don't think it should read: "You just put some salt in the water I left out on the table yesterday"? This sentence shares pretty much the same syntactic structure as the sentence in question.
    – Eddie Kal
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 5:34
  • Yes, you need the definite article in that sentence, because it refers to a particular pot (or glass or whatever) of water. But as I said in my answer, this author is not referring to a specific exhibition of a particular film, but to the practice of exhibiting (showing) films. It's like saying "I began my career in the widget industry in manufacturing, then I transitioned into research and development, and now I'm in marketing." No articles before "manufacturing," "research and development," or "marketing."
    – Nanigashi
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 5:44
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    Oh, I think I see what the trouble is! It seems you are being misled by a usage of the word "that" that you are not familiar with. "It was in exhibition that Carl began" is a cleft sentence; unlike your sentence about the water and the salt, it does not contain a restrictive relative clause.
    – Nanigashi
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 6:12
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    The corresponding simple (non-cleft) sentence would be "Carl began in exhibition"; the cleft version has essentially the same meaning, but emphasizes "in exhibition." In this case, "that" is a conjunction that introduces the subordinate clause "that Carl began." If you need further enlightenment, please try reading this or post a new question.
    – Nanigashi
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 7:07
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    It just clicked! It all makes sense now. Thank you! Thank you for your continued effort in bringing me to the correct reading of the sentence. I misparsed it. It seems from the comments under the question I wasn't the only one. Please consider expanding on your existing answer to include an analysis of the sentence structure. The nub of the problem here was "since". I misread it as a from-that-point since, as in "since her mother died". But it appears to be a because since. I think that is where the sentence is confusing.
    – Eddie Kal
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 7:14

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