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The French firm of Pathé Frères established an agency in Britain in 1902. It began film production in 1910 with the newsreel Pathé's Animated Gazette. A film studio was established at Great Portland Street, and fiction films produced under the 'Britannia' brand, then through a sudsidiary, Union Film Publishing Company, using the 'Big Ben' brand, with George Pearson as house director. Fiction film production ceased with WW1, but the newsreel flourished and in 1918 the cinemagazine Pathé Pictorial was launched, joined in the '20s by Eve's Film Review. Pathé's major business, however, was in distribution, where it held considerable power in the '20s, merging with First National and Provincial Cinema Theatres under John Maxwell in 1927 to form the production-exhibition-distribution combine First National-Pathé. Feature film production began in 1927, with Graham Cutts, Manning Haynes and Jack Raymond as directors.

The Pathé name was lost in 1931 when the Warner Brothers-First National company was formed, only to re-emerge in 1933 when Pathé was absorbed within Maxwell's ABPC group. ABPC used the Pathé name in a variety of forms, including Pathé Pictures, which distributed features made at the Welwyn studios. Meanwhile the Pathé newsreel flourished, and a new cinemagazine lasted throughout the decade, Pathetone Weekly. It was the newsreel that maintained the Pathé name into the '40s, changing its name to Pathé News in 1946. After the war the distribution side of ABPC took on the name of Associated British-Pathé. In 1958 this merged with Warner Brothers to form Warner-Pathé, which then handled Warners, ABPC, Allied Artists, Pathé News and Pathé Pictorial in British cinemas. Pathé Pictorial ceased production in 1969, Pathé News the year after, but the Pathé library now contained a substantial record of the century. Ownership of Associated-British and with it the Pathé News library passed to EMI in 1969, and the newsreels were handed on to Thorn-EMI to Cannon to Weintraub, until taken on in 1995 by a newly-formed company, British Pathé.

Luke McKernan, Encyclopedia of British Film

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