Gaumont British

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Company logo in the 1910s and 20s

The Gaumont-British Picture Corporation was a company that produced and distributed films and operated a cinema chain in the United Kingdom.

It was founded in 1898 as the British subsidiary of the French Gaumont Film Company. It became independent of its French parent in 1922 when Isidore Ostrer acquired control of Gaumont-British. In 1927 a leading silent film maker, the Ideal Film Company, merged with Gaumont.

The company's Lime Grove Studios made films including Alfred Hitchcock's 1935 adaptation of The 39 Steps, and its Islington Studios made Hitchcock's 1938 film The Lady Vanishes.1 In the 1930s the company employed 16,000 people.

In the USA Gaumont-British had its own distribution operation for its films until December 1938, when it outsourced distribution to 20th Century Fox. In 1941 the Rank Organisation bought Gaumont-British and its sister company Gainsborough Pictures.

Cinemas

The former Gaumont State Cinema in Kilburn, London, opened in 1937

Gaumont-British developed or acquired large "super-cinemas" such as the New Victoria in Bradford opened in 1930, the Gaumont in Manchester opened in 1935, and the Gaumont State Cinema in Kilburn, London, opened in 1937.

Many of its cinemas had a theatre organ for entertainment before the show, in the intervals, or after the show. The name "Gaumont" was adopted to describe the style of the flat-top organ console case (originally for the Pavilion Theatre, Shepherds Bush2), for some Compton organs built from October 1931 to 1934.

The Odeon, Westover Road, Bournemouth was a Gaumont until 1986

Rank had taken over Odeon Cinemas in 1938 but it continued the Gaumont and Odeon names for its cinemas for some decades. As late as 1950 it renamed the New Victoria, Bradford as a Gaumont. In the 1960s it adopted a policy of renaming all its cinemas Odeon. However, Gaumont, Bournemouth was not renamed as an Odeon until 1986.

See also

References

  1. ^ Warren, Patricia (2001). British Film Studios: An Illustrated History. London: B.T. Batsford. p. 109. 
  2. ^ Buckingham, Ivor. "Organ cases and illuminated surrounds". The Compton List. Retrieved 6 December 2008. 

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