Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Pathe Freres

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A French company, of which the UK arm was in Lamb's Conduit Street, London, W.C.

1896 Emile, Théophile and Jacques Pathé founded Société Pathé Frères in France and began film production.

1897 Société Pathé Frères went public under the name Compagnie Générale des Etablissements Pathé Frères Phonographes & Cinématographes (or CGPC).

Later maker of Pathephone

CGPC continued filming for many years, distributing films and expanding its theatre empire across much of the Western World.

1908 The company invented the newsreel. The first was Pathé-Faits Divers in France which was renamed Pathé Journal in 1909.

1910 CGPC launched an American newsreel arm to produce Pathé News

1910 Opened an office on Wardour Street, London, for production of newsreel. Produced the first UK newsreel under the brand: Pathé’s Animated Gazette.

The French, British, and American newsreel arms would often share footage with their colleagues overseas.

1912 Introduced 28 mm non-flammable film and equipment under the brand name Pathescope.

1918 CGPC began to be run as two separate divisions:

  • Pathé-Cinema (films and newsreels) under the control of Charles Pathé
  • Pathé Records (music) overseen by Emile Pathé.

This was the first step towards the eventual splintering of the company

1921 The USA Pathé-Cinema arm (including Pathé News) was sold. It was run by Pathé Exchange and then RKO Radio Pictures, which shut down the film production arm.

1927 CGPC sold the UK arm of Pathé-Cinema, which included both the film production office and the newsreel office, to First National, forming First National-Pathé.

The UK newsreel company eventually became divorced from its overseas parent and sister companies, never to be reunited. Pathé-branded newsreel and film production in the UK was now on its own.

1928 CGPC sold the French and UK arms of Pathé Records to the British Columbia Graphophone Co.

1929 The US arm of Pathé Records was sold to the American Record Corporation. Its assets now lie with Sony.

The remaining assets of CGPC (such as the French film production arm, the international cinema chain, and the French Pathé Journal newsreels) were taken over by Bernard Natan to form Pathé-Natan. It changed hands a few times after that before becoming the present-day film company “Pathé”.

As First National-Pathé, newsreels were released under the name of Pathé Gazette; and an internationally-distributed newsreel was produced from Wardour Street – Pathetone Weekly. But the great innovation of this period was the introduction of sound in 1930. This brought a new immediacy and reality to the footage, despite the limitations of early technology. Sound also allowed newsreels to start including interviews.

1931 Warner Brothers purchased First National and formed Warner Brothers-First National and the future of the Pathé brand looked uncertain.

1933 The golden age of British Pathé began after British International Pictures purchased the Pathé newsreel and feature film brand from Warner Brothers-First National. Associated British-Pathé was born, under the umbrella of the Associated British Picture Corporation.

Post-WWII Despite having been completely separate companies for two decades, the newsreel companies Associated British-Pathé (UK), Pathé Journal (France), and Pathé News Inc (USA) began sharing footage and cameramen in order to enable news to be more easily distributed worldwide.

1946 Pathé Gazette rebranded itself as Pathé News.

1947 Warner Brothers purchased the American newsreel arm before selling it to Studio Films.

Associated British-Pathé produced feature films and commercials, and even expanding into the television market. But newsreels were not live broadcast like television.

1950s Pathé News disappeared from cinemas. Its archive is now owned by the Sherman Grinberg Film Library.

By the end of the 1950s, Pathé News was struggling to compete.

1958 Warner Brothers merged with Associated British Picture Corporation to form Warner-Pathé.

1960s Other newsreel brands went out of businessl the company needed to adapt if it was going to survive. The answer it found was to focus on the quirks of humanity.

1981 Pathé Journal was discontinued. Its newsreel archive now lies with Gaumont-Pathé.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • History of British Pathe [1]