Silent Movies in the "Talkie" Era?

I caught a bit of a documentary on Charlie Chaplin,on TCM. Apparently, Chaplin continued to make silent movies , until well into the 1930’s. I belive that the first movie with sound was “THE JAZZ Singer”,with Al Jolson-this came out in 1927? I would expect that the market for silent films would have declined rapidly after that…so were silent movies largely extinct by 1930?
Also, some of the older movie theatres I’ve been to had a large orchestra pit in front-did many performances of silent films include a live orchestra? Or was it just a piano or organ accompaniement?

Some larger theaters did have a live orchestra. And occasionally the music that was written to accompany a film came from very well-known classical composers: for instance, Prokofiev wrote music for the silent films. His “Alexander Nevsky” is still performed today.

They were mortally wounded by 1930 but not extinct. Since there were no megaplexes at the time and most smaller cities only had one or at most two movie screens, it could sometimes take two or three years for even a big hit movie to make it to “the provinces”, so it would have been the early '30s before The Jazz Singer and other early talkies (Jazz Singer wasn’t the first, btw) to make the complete circuit and it would have been sandwiched most likely twixt silents. (Also, many of the provincial theaters weren’t yet technologically equipped to handle sound, and with the Depression hitting they weren’t willing or able to cough up the cash, which meant that many of the smaller towns and cities didn’t begin showing talkies regularly until the mid 1930s.)

But, otoh, the handwriting was on the celluloid and few other than Chaplin were even considering silent feature lengths by this time. (Silent shorts were still in production until about the early 30s at the major studios.)

Pardon the hijack, but…

Eve if you’re out there: “Rosabel, believe” or whatever words will summon you back from the ether- you’re NEEDED HERE!

Both. Theatres, like any other business, would compete with each other for patronage, so oftentimes they would hire more musicians than just a pianist/organist; a small orchestra (four players or so) was rather common.

In the early days, there were no scores, and pianists or organists had to improvise or ‘play to the picture.’ Theater programs would change daily, and it was difficult for musicians to keep up. One player lamented that by the end of the night, they knew exactly how to play the picture, and by then, it was too late, a new film was playing tomorrow.

The first film with a written score was Birth of a Nation, which was a travelling roadshow that toured the country with its own rehearsed orchestra.

Keep in mind that that Jazz Singer was not entirely synched. There remained parts that were silent (it’s rather odd if you ever get a chance to see the film).

Silent films were also made in Russia, Japan, and Europe until the 1940s.