Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Associated British Picture Corporation

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1927 John Maxwell bought out the troubled consortium responsible for building Elstree Studios, and established British International Pictures (BIP) as a public company.

1928 Installed the new RCA sound equipment at Elstree and announced plans for multilingual production.

1929 In face of competition from low-budget "talkies" Maxwell reversed his policy and began making low-budget films for the domestic market. To ensure that his films had an outlet, he began to buy up cinemas. In November 1928 he registered Associated British Cinemas (ABC) as a public company.

1929 ABC had a circuit of 80 cinemas

By the end of 1931 there 160 cinemas in the chain.

1933 ABC, BIP, and Wardour Films were consolidated into a single company, the Associated British Picture Corporation.

Its short-film subsidiary, Pathé Pictures, with subsidiaries Pathé News and Pathé Pictorial was expanded into production of documentaries.

1937 After an abortive attempt to acquire the other large cinema chain in the UK, Maxwell acquired the 168 cinemas of the Union circuit, merging them into his ABC circuit, which with a total of 493 cinemas was now the biggest in the country.

1955 Associated British Picture Corporation was invited by the Independent Television Authority to apply for the weekend commercial television contract in the North of England and the Midlands which it declined because of higher priorities for use of capital in the business[1]. Later in the year did gain the contract; ABC Television was formed as a subsidiary.

EMI's leisure division (headed by Bernard Delfont) bought the Associated British Picture Corporation, its Elstree studios, and its cinema chain.

However, there were difficult labour relations and, despite odd hits in the 1970s the company had continued financial difficulties.

1979 Thorn Electrical Industries acquired EMI.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Times July 6, 1955
  • Biography of John Maxwell, ODNB
  • Biography of Bernard Delfont, ODNB
  • Biography of Howard Thomas, ODNB