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EMI Film Productions

Production Company, Distributor, Exhibitor

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Electrical and Musical Industries (EMI) was a British show business conglomerate which, in the later '60s, aimed to become a force in film production-exhibition-distribution. In several stages it took over Associated British Picture Corporation, with its Elstree Studios, first buying out the Warner-Seven Arts share in ABPC. By 1969, the latter had been replaced by EMI-Elstree, MGM agreed to co-finance some Elstree films, rather than pursue its own production programme at Borehamwood, and actor-director Bryan Forbes was made head of production and managing director of EMI-MGM.

For a couple of years Forbes tried valiantly to produce films which would keep the company financially viable, and there were solid successes with The Railway Children (d. Lionel Jeffries, 1970) and Tales of Beatrix Potter (d. Reginald Mills, 1971) and a major succès d'estime with The Go-Between (d. Joseph Losey, 1971). However, the studio was probably over-committed to productions not likely to be major box-office successes; there were difficult labour relations; and late in 1971, committed to a no-redundancy policy, Forbes resigned. By 1973, MGM had withdrawn its participation, and the studio's permanent staff had been halved.

There were odd hits in the '70s, such as Murder on the Orient Express (d. Sidney Lumet, 1974), but the company continued to have financial difficulties and was bought in 1979 by Thorn, the electrical conglomerate. Thorn-EMI worked to attract American majors to use the Elstree studio facilities and to embrace television as well as film production. In 1986, the amalgamated company was bought by the Cannon Group, so ending EMI's dream of becoming a major player in British film.

Walker, Alexander, Hollywood England (1974)

Brian McFarlane, Encyclopedia of British Film

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