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Company typePrivate
Founded28 September 1896; 127 years ago (1896-09-28)
Headquarters2 Rue Lamennais 75008, ,
Area served
RevenueIncrease €903 million (2017)[1]
OwnerJérôme Seydoux
Eduardo Malone
Number of employees
4,210 (2017)[1]
SubsidiariesPathé Films
Pathé Séries
Pathé Cinémas
Fondation Pathé
Vendôme Production

Pathé (French: [pate]; styled as PATHÉ!) is a French-British major film production and distribution company, owning a number of cinema chains through its subsidiary Pathé Cinémas and television networks across Europe.

It is the name of a network of French businesses that were founded and originally run by the Pathé Brothers of France starting in 1896. In the early 1900s, Pathé became the world's largest film equipment and production company, as well as a major producer of phonograph records. In 1908, Pathé invented the newsreel that was shown in cinemas before a feature film.[2]

Pathé is the second-oldest operating film company, behind Gaumont Film Company, which was established in 1895.

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The Pathé Brothers by Adrien Barrère

The company was founded as Société Pathé Frères (French: [patefʁɛʁ]; "Pathé Brothers Company") in Paris, France on 28 September 1896, by the four brothers Charles, Émile, Théophile and Jacques Pathé.[3] During the first part of the 20th century, Pathé became the largest film equipment and production company in the world,[4] as well as a major producer of phonograph records.

Headquarters of Associated British-Pathé at 142 Wardour Street in London

Pathé Records

The driving force behind the film operation and phonograph business was Charles Pathé, who had helped open a phonograph shop in 1894 and established a phonograph factory at Chatou on the western outskirts of Paris. The Pathé brothers began selling Edison and Columbia phonographs and accompanying cylinder records and later, the brothers designed and sold their own phonographs that incorporated elements of other brands.[5] Soon after, they also started marketing pre-recorded cylinder records. By 1896 the Pathé brothers had offices and recording studios not only in Paris, but also in London, Milan, and St. Petersburg. Pathé manufactured cylinder records until approximately 1914. In 1905,[6] the Pathé brothers entered the growing field of disc records.[7]

In France, Pathé became the largest and most successful distributor of cylinder records and phonographs. These, however, failed to make headway in foreign markets such as the United Kingdom and the United States where other brands were already in widespread use.[8]

In December 1928, the French and British Pathé phonograph assets were sold to the British Columbia Graphophone Company. In July 1929, the assets of the American Pathé record company were merged into the newly formed American Record Corporation.[6]

The Pathé and Pathé-Marconi labels and catalogue still survive, first as imprints of EMI and now currently EMI's successor Parlophone Records. In 1967 EMI Italiana took control of the entire catalog. In turn, the Universal Music Group acquired EMI Italiana in 2013.

Pathé films

As the phonograph business became successful, Pathé saw the opportunities offered by new means of entertainment and in particular by the fledgling motion picture industry. Having decided to expand the record business to include film equipment, the company expanded dramatically. To finance its growth, the company took the name Compagnie Générale des Établissements Pathé Frères Phonographes & Cinématographes (sometimes abbreviated as CGPC) in 1897, and its shares were listed on the Paris Stock Exchange.[9] In 1896, Mitchell Mark of Buffalo, New York, became the first American to import Pathé films to the United States, where they were shown in the Vitascope Theater.[10]

In 1907, Pathé acquired the Lumière brothers' patents and then set about to design an improved studio camera and to make their own film stock. Their technologically advanced equipment, new processing facilities built at Vincennes, and aggressive merchandising combined with efficient distribution systems allowed them to capture a huge share of the international market. They first expanded to London in 1902 where they set up production facilities and a chain of cinemas.[11]

By 1909, Pathé had built more than 200 cinemas in France and Belgium and by the following year they had facilities in Madrid, Moscow, Rome and New York City plus Australia and Japan. Slightly later, they opened a film exchange in Buffalo, New York.[11] Through its American subsidiary, it was part of the MPPC cartel of production in the United States. It participated in the Paris Film Congress in February 1909 as part of a plan to create a similar European organisation. The company withdrew from the project in a second meeting in April which fatally undermined the proposal. In 1906 Pathé Frères had pioneered the luxury cinema with the opening of the Omnia Cinéma-Pathé in Paris.[12]

Prior to the outbreak of World War I, Pathé dominated Europe's market in motion picture cameras and projectors. It has been estimated[13] that at one time, 60 percent of all films were shot with Pathé equipment. In 1908, Pathé distributed Excursion to the Moon by Segundo de Chomón, an imitation of Georges Méliès's A Trip to the Moon. Pathé and Méliès worked together in 1911.[14] Méliès made a film Baron Munchausen's Dream, his first film to be distributed by Pathé. Pathé's relationship with Méliès soured, and after he went bankrupt in 1913, his last film was never released by Pathé.[15]

After World War I, Charles Pathé started divesting himself from various film interests, believing that the French film industry would never recover after 1918.[16] The company's subsequent decline relegated Pathé primarily as a distributor of short subjects and it became a minor player in the mainstream film industry.[16]


Worldwide, the company emphasised research, investing in such experiments as hand-coloured film and the synchronisation of film and gramophone recordings. In 1908, Pathé invented the newsreel that was shown in theatres prior to the feature film. The news clips featured the Pathé logo of a crowing rooster at the beginning of each reel. In 1912, it introduced 28 mm non-flammable film and equipment under the brand name Pathescope. Pathé News produced cinema newsreels from 1910, up until the 1970s when production ceased as a result of mass television ownership.[17]

In the United States, beginning in 1914, the company built film production studios in Fort Lee and Jersey City, NJ, where their building still stands. The Heights, Jersey City produced the extremely successful serialised episodes called The Perils of Pauline. By 1918 Pathé had grown to the point where it was necessary to separate operations into two distinct divisions. With Emile Pathé as chief executive, Pathé Records dealt exclusively with phonographs and recordings while brother Charles managed Pathé-Cinéma which was responsible for film production, distribution, and exhibition.[18]

1922 saw the introduction of the Pathé Baby home film system using a new 9.5 mm film stock which became popular over the next few decades. In 1921, Pathé sold off its United States motion picture production arm, which was renamed "Pathé Exchange" and later merged into RKO Pictures, disappearing as an independent brand in 1931. Pathé sold its British film studios to Eastman Kodak in 1927 while maintaining the theatre and distribution arm.[18]

Pathé-Baby 9.5 mm film version of La Cité foudroyée (1924)

Natan to Parretti

Pathé was already in substantial financial trouble when Bernard Natan took control of the company in 1929. Studio founder Charles Pathé had been selling assets for several years to boost investor value and keep the studio's cash flow healthy. The company's founder had even sold Pathé's name and "rooster" trademark to other companies in return for a mere two percent of revenues. Natan had the bad luck to take charge of the studio just as the Great Depression convulsed the French economy.[19][20]

Natan attempted to steady Pathé's finances and implement modern film industry practices at the studio. He acquired another film studio, Société des Cinéromans, from Arthur Bernède and Gaston Leroux, which let Pathé expand into projector and electronics manufacturing. He also bought the Fornier chain of motion picture theatres and rapidly expanded the chain's nationwide presence.[19][20][21] The French press, however, attacked Natan mercilessly for his stewardship of Pathé. Many of these attacks were antisemitic.[22]

Pathé-Natan did well under Natan's guidance. Between 1930 and 1935, despite the world economic crisis, the company made 100 million francs in profits, and produced and released more than 60 feature films (just as many films as major American studios produced at the time). He resumed production of the newsreel Pathé News, which had not been produced since 1927.[19]

Natan also invested heavily into research and development to expand Pathé's film business. In 1929, he pushed Pathé into sound film. In September, the studio produced its first sound feature film, and its first sound newsreel a month later. Natan also launched two new cinema-related magazines, Pathé-Revue and Actualités Féminines, to help market Pathé's films and build consumer demand for cinema. Under Natan, Pathé also funded the research of Henri Chrétien, who developed the anamorphic lens (leading to the creation of CinemaScope and other widescreen film formats common today).[20][21]

Natan expanded Pathé's business interests into communications industries other than film. In November 1929, Natan established France's first television company, Télévision-Baird-Natan. A year later, he purchased a radio station in Paris and formed a holding company (Radio-Natan-Vitus) to run what would become a burgeoning radio empire.[19][20][21]

In order to finance the company's continued expansion, Pathé's board of directors (which still included Charles Pathé) had voted in 1930 to issue shares worth 105 million francs. Then the Great Depression hit France in 1931, and only 50 percent of the shares were purchased. One of the investor banks collapsed due to financial difficulties unrelated to Pathé's problems, and Pathé was forced to follow through with the purchase of several cinema chains it no longer could afford to buy. Although the company continued to make a profit, it lost more money thanks to these acquisitions than it could bring in.[20][21] In 1935, a commercial court began examining Pathé's accounts, and by 1936 it was declared bankrupt and Natan was dismissed.[23] The studios were not doing badly and continued to make films,[23] but his companies went into receivership and were claimed by the state.

French authorities pursued charges of fraud against Natan, including financing the purchase of the company without any collateral, of bilking investors by establishing fictitious shell corporations, and financial mismanagement. He was also accused of hiding his Romanian and Jewish heritage by changing his name. In 1938, Natan was arrested and imprisoned, never to regain his freedom. In 1939 he was indicted and sentenced to 4 years in jail.[23] As a result, he was in prison when France fell to the Nazis, a time when other Jewish filmmakers fled or went into hiding. On his release from prison in 1942, he was delivered to the Nazis, and by September 1942 had been deported to Auschwitz, where he was murdered.[19][20][21][24]

In 1943, the company was forced to undergo a restructuring, and was acquired by Adrien Ramauge, changing its name to Société Nouvelle Pathé Cinema.[25] Over the years, the business underwent a number of changes including diversification into producing programmes for the burgeoning television industry. During the 1970s, operating theatres overtook film production as Pathé's primary source of revenue.

In the late 1980s, Italian financier Giancarlo Parretti tried to make a bid for Pathé, even taking over Cannon and renaming it Pathé Communications in anticipation of owning the storied studio. Parretti's shady past, however, raised enough eyebrows in the French government that the deal fell through. It turned out to be a fortunate decision, as Parretti later took over Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and merged it with his Pathé Communications Group to create MGM-Pathé Communications in 1990, only to lose it in bankruptcy in late 1991.

Jérôme Seydoux

In 1990 Chargeurs, a French conglomerate led by Jérôme Seydoux, took control of the company.[26] As a result of the deregulation of the French telecommunications market, in June 1999 Pathé merged with Vivendi, with the exchange ratio for the merger fixed at three Vivendi shares for every two Pathé shares. The Wall Street Journal estimated the value of the deal at US$2.59 billion. Following the completion of the merger, Vivendi retained Pathé's interests in British Sky Broadcasting and CanalSatellite, a French broadcasting corporation,[27] but then sold all remaining assets to Jérôme Seydoux's family-owned corporation, Fornier SA, which changed its name to Pathé.


Pathé multiplex in Dietlikon, Switzerland

A list of current and former assets of Pathé.[28]

Current assets

  • Pathé Cinémas (cinema chain)
  • Pathé Films (film production in France & distribution in France and Switzerland, with a catalogue of over 800 films)
  • Pathé BC Afrique (film distribution in the Maghreb and French-speaking sub-Saharan Africa)[29]
  • Pathé Live (distributor of event cinema.)

Former assets



In its home country France, Pathé self-distributes its films through Pathé Films (formerly called AMLF (Agence méditerranéenne de location de films) from 1972 to 1998). On home video, their films are distributed by Fox Pathé Europa, a joint venture between Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Pathé and EuropaCorp.

United Kingdom

In August 1992, Pathé's then-parent company Charegurs purchased Guild Entertainment from Wembley PLC, becoming Pathé's de-facto UK distributor.[31] Initially, PolyGram Video distributed Guild's VHS releases until March 1995, when Chargeurs formed a UK rental joint-venture with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, who became Guild/Pathé's home video distributor, the rental joint-venture would be named Fox Guild Home Entertainment.[32]

After the Chargeurs demerger in 1996,[33] Pathé began retiring the Guild brand, rebranding the theatrical arm first as Guild Pathé Cinema and eventually as Pathé Distribution in June 1997 after securing a deal to produce films in the country.[34] The home video division followed suit toward the end of the year, rebranding under the Pathé name, the video rental division Fox Guild Home Entertainment would be renamed Fox Pathé Home Entertainment the following year. Guild Home Video remained as an in-name-only dormant business of Pathé until folding on 17 December 2019.[35]

On 12 March 2009, Pathé announced that they would close their UK/Ireland theatrical distribution unit and form a new partnership with Warner Bros. Pictures to handle the theatrical distribution of their titles in the UK, following a handful of films that flopped at the box office. The move was made so Pathé could focus more on the development and production of its own titles instead of acquisitions. The partnership would allow the two companies working together to identify co-production opportunities. Pathé would remain as an international sales agent for films, while 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment would remain as the distributor for home video.[36] Select film acquisitions that were planned to be distributed by Pathé, such as Chatroom and Dead Man Running, were sold to Revolver Entertainment.

On 1 February 2011, it was announced that 20th Century Fox would take over as Pathé's theatrical distributor. Pathé UK's co-CEO Francois Ivernel deemed it easier for one company to handle the licensing process for both theatrical and home video.[37]

With the purchase of 20th Century Fox by the Walt Disney Company on 20 March 2019, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures took over distributing Pathé's material, releasing Misbehaviour and The Human Voice, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment would release the two films on home video. The longstanding deal with Fox/Disney deal expired on 30 June 2021, and Pathé decided not to renew. Pathé UK managing director Cameron McCracken was pleased with Disney's treatment of the company's films, deeming them to have given the films the same treatment that Fox did.[38]

On 7 June 2021, a few weeks before the expiration of the Fox deal, Pathé UK announced they would revert their distribution to Warner Bros. Pictures, with the first films being released under the new deal being Parallel Mothers and The Duke. Unlike the 2009 deal, this new deal would also include home video and digital rights as well, which Fox previously handled.[39]

On 15 November 2023, Pathé UK announced that they would exit out of the UK theatrical market and restructure to focus on the premium television market instead. The exit was due to structural changes in the film industry following the COVID-19 pandemic, issues with the structure of independent distribution in the country (which led to fellow rival Entertainment One closing their UK distribution arm earlier in 2023), some of their films flopping at the box office, and the retirement of Cameron McCracken.[40]

See also



  1. ^ a b [dead link]
  2. ^ "History of British Pathé". British Pathé. Archived from the original on 5 February 2015. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  3. ^ "Trade catalogs from Pathé Frères SA". National Museum of American History. Archived from the original on 29 August 2017. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  4. ^ Bowrey, Kathy (2020). Copyright, Creativity, Big Media and Cultural Value: Incorporating the Author. Oxon: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-429-57509-9.
  5. ^ Hoffmann, Frank; Howard Ferstler (2005). The Encyclopedia of Recorded Sound. CRC Press. ISBN 0-415-93835-X.
  6. ^ a b Copeland, George; Ronald Dethlefson (1999). Pathé Records and Phonographs in America, 1914-1922 (1 ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Mulholland Press. OCLC 44146208. Archived from the original on 3 July 2023. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  7. ^ "Pathé vertical-cut disc record (1905 – 1932) – Museum Of Obsolete Media". 18 May 2015. Archived from the original on 9 December 2022. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  8. ^ Fabrizio, Timothy; George Paul (2000). Discovering Antique Phonographs. Atglen PA: Sciffer Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0-7643-1048-8.
  9. ^ "Who's Who of Victorian Cinema". Archived from the original on 29 June 2020. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  10. ^ Abel 1999, pp. 23–24.
  11. ^ a b Abel 1999, p. 25.
  12. ^ "Arcades". Cinema Treasures. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  13. ^ "Film and Electrolux through the ages". Electrolux. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  14. ^ Harison, Casey (2020). Paris in Modern Times: From the Old Regime to the Present Day. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 208. ISBN 978-1-350-00553-2.
  15. ^ Abel 1999, p. 26.
  16. ^ a b Ward, Richard Lewis (2006). A History of the Hal Roach Studios. Carbondale: SIU Press. p. 34. ISBN 0-8093-2637-X.
  17. ^ Researcher's Guide to British Newsreels 1993, p. 80.
  18. ^ a b Abel 1999, pp. 32–35.
  19. ^ a b c d e Willems, Gilles "Les origines de Pathé-Natan" In Une Histoire Économique du Cinéma Français (1895–1995), Regards Croisés Franco-Américains, Pierre-Jean Benghozi and Christian Delage, eds. Paris: Harmattan, Collection Champs Visuels, 1997. English translation: "The origins of Pathé-Natan." Archived 9 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine La Trobe University. Retrieved: 1 January 2017.
  20. ^ a b c d e f Abel, Richard. French Cinema: The First Wave 1915–1929 Paperback ed. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987, ISBN 0-691-00813-2.
  21. ^ a b c d e Willems, Gilles (April–June 1995). "Les Origines du Groupe Pathé-Natan et le Modele Americain". Vingtième Siècle (in French). 46: 98–106. doi:10.3406/xxs.1995.3157. Archived from the original on 14 December 2019.
  22. ^ Hutchinson, Pamela (14 December 2015). "In need of rehabilitation: Bernard Natan, the Holocaust victim who saved France's film industry". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  23. ^ a b c "The Regained Dignity of Filmmaker Bernard Natan - le portail des livres et des idées". (in French). Retrieved 10 January 2024.
  24. ^ Neshitov, Tim (15 August 2016). "Ein vergessenes Leben". Sü (in German). Retrieved 10 January 2024.
  25. ^ Gant 1999, p. 370. Archived 3 July 2023 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ "Pathé, Gaumont and Seydoux: Pathe." Archived 24 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved: 19 October 2010.
  27. ^ Williams, Michael (8 June 1999). "Vivendi nabs sat stakes for Pathe merger". Variety. Archived from the original on 29 August 2017. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  28. ^ "Pathé Annual Brochure 2018" (PDF). Annual Report. Pathé. March 2019. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 October 2020. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
  29. ^ "Une nouvelle structure de distribution cinématographique en Afrique - Boxoffice Pro". 6 October 2020.
  30. ^ "Breakdown of Share Capital as of 31 December 2019". Article. Olympique Lyonnaise. 31 December 2019. Archived from the original on 6 August 2020. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
  31. ^ "Guild, U.K. Vid Distributor, Sold". 8 August 1992. Archived from the original on 3 July 2023. Retrieved 29 May 2023.
  32. ^ "20th Century Fox, Guild Enter Into U.K. Co-Venture". 18 March 1995. Archived from the original on 3 July 2023. Retrieved 29 May 2023.
  33. ^ "France's Chargeurs to split - UPI Archives".
  34. ^ "Lottery spins U.K. Film arm on new Pathe". 10 June 1997. Archived from the original on 22 May 2023. Retrieved 22 May 2023.
  35. ^ "GUILD HOME VIDEO LIMITED - Overview (free company information from Companies House)". Archived from the original on 3 July 2023. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  36. ^ " | Pathe UK And Warner Bros. Entertainment UK Announce New Strategic Alliance In The UK | Press Releases". Archived from the original on 22 May 2023.
  37. ^ London, Tim Adler in (1 February 2011). "Pathé UK Swaps Warner Bros For Fox". Archived from the original on 6 August 2020. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
  38. ^ "Pathe UK managing director Cameron McCracken talks new deal with Warner Bros". Archived from the original on 30 November 2022. Retrieved 22 May 2023.
  39. ^ Yossman, K. J. (7 June 2021). "Warner Bros, Pathé Strike U.K. Distribution Deal". Variety. Archived from the original on 21 June 2021. Retrieved 14 June 2021.
  40. ^ Keslassy, Elsa (15 November 2023). "Pathe U.K. Exits Film Distribution as Head of Film Cameron McCracken Retires". Variety Magazine.


  • Abel, Richard. The Red Rooster Scare: Making Cinema American, 1900–1910. Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1999. ISBN 0-520-21478-1.
  • Gant, Tina. International Directory of Company Histories, Volume 8; Volume 29. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale, 1999. ISBN 1-5-586-2392-2.
  • Researcher's Guide to British Newsreels. London: British Universities Film & Video Council. 1993. ISBN 0-901299-65-0.
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