Pathé News was a producer of newsreels and documentaries from 1910 until 1970 in the United Kingdom. Its founder, Charles Pathé, was a pioneer of moving pictures in the silent era. The Pathé News archive is known today as British Pathé. Its collection of news film and movies is fully digitised and available online.
Its roots lie in 1896 Paris, France, when Société Pathé Frères was founded by Charles Pathé and his brothers, who pioneered the development of the moving image. Charles Pathé adopted the national emblem of France, the cockerel, as the trademark for his company. After the company, now called Compagnie Générale des Éstablissements Pathé Frère Phonographes & Cinématographes, invented the cinema newsreel with Pathé-Journal. French Pathé began its newsreel in 1908 and opened a newsreel office in Wardour Street, London in 1910.
The newsreels were shown in the cinema and were silent until 1928. At first they ran for about four minutes and were issued fortnightly. During the early days the camera shots were taken from a stationary position but the Pathé newsreels captured events such as Franz Reichelt's fatal parachute jump from the Eiffel Tower and suffragette Emily Davison's fatal injury by a racehorse at the 1913 Epsom Derby.
During the First World War, the cinema newsreels were called the Pathé Animated Gazettes, and for the first time this provided newspapers with competition. After 1918, British Pathé started producing a series of cinemazines, in which the newsreels were much longer and more comprehensive. By 1930, British Pathé was covering news, entertainment, sport, culture and women's issues through programmes including the Pathétone Weekly, the Pathé Pictorial, the Gazette and Eve’s Film Review.
In 1927, the company sold British Pathé (both the feature film and the newsreel divisions) to First National. (French Pathé News continued until 1980, and the library is now part of the Gaumont-Pathé collection). Pathé changed hands again in 1933, when it was acquired by British International Pictures, which was later known as Associated British Picture Corporation. In 1958, it was sold again to Warner Bros. and became Warner-Pathé. Pathé eventually stopped producing the cinema newsreel in February 1970 as they could no longer compete with television. During the newsreels' run, the narrators included Bob Danvers-Walker, Dwight Weist, Dan Donaldson, André Baruch and Clem McCarthy among others.
The library itself was sold with Associated British Picture to EMI Films and then others, including The Cannon Group (which split the feature film and newsreel divisions) and the Daily Mail and General Trust, before relaunching in its own right in 2009. The feature film division is now part of StudioCanal and is not connected with Pathé, the French company and original parent of British Pathé. In 2002, partially funded by the UK National Lottery, the entire archive was digitised. The British Pathé archive now holds over 3,500 hours of filmed history, 90,000 individual items and 12 million stills. On February 7, 2009, British Pathé launched a YouTube channel of its newsreel archive.
From March 2010, British Pathé relaunched its archive as an online entertainment site, making Pathé News a service for the public as well as the broadcasting industry. In May 2010 The Guardian was given access to the British Pathé archive, hosting topical videos on its website. In November 2010 the Daily Mail gave its readers free DVDs of the seven-part British Pathé series A Year to Remember: The War Years. The series comprised seven discs, each focusing on a different year from 1939 to 1945. In May 2012 British Pathé won the FOCAL International Award for Footage Library of the Year. In April 2014 British Pathé uploaded the entire collection of 85,000 historic films to its YouTube channel as part of a drive to make the archive more accessible to viewers all over the world.
British Pathé produced a number of programmes and series as well as newsreels, such as Pathé Eve and Astra Gazette. In 2010 BBC Four reversioned the 1950s Pathé series Time To Remember, which was narrated by the actor Stanley Holloway, and broadcast it as a thematic 12-part series.
British Pathé has been known under the following names: C.G.P.C. (1910–1927), First National-Pathé (1927–1933), Associated British-Pathé (1933–1958), Warner-Pathé (1958–1969), British Pathé News (1990–1995), British Pathé (1995–present).
The British and American newsreel companies separated in 1921 when the American company was sold. In 1947, the film assets of the successor companies of Pathé News, Inc. were purchased by Warner Bros. from RKO Radio Pictures, which had acquired them in 1931. Warners, as had RKO before them, continued to produce the theatrical newsreel Pathé News, its title changing from RKO-Pathe News to Warner-Pathe News. Warner also produced a series of 38 theatrical short subjects and 81 issues of the News Magazine of the Screen series, which added to the Pathé film properties and are now part of the company's extensive film library. Producer/editor Robert Youngson was primarily responsible for these series and won two Academy Awards for them. In 1956, Warner Bros. discontinued the production of the theatrical newsreel and sold the Pathé News film library, the 38 theatrical short subjects, the Pathé News Magazine of the Screen, the crowing rooster trade mark and the copyrights and other properties to Studio Films, Inc.—shortly thereafter named Pathé Pictures, Inc.—which subsequently relinquished the name and film properties of both companies to Pathé News, Inc.
Other U.S. newsreel series included Paramount News (1927–1957), Fox Movietone News (1928–1963), Hearst Metrotone News/News of the Day (1914–1967), Universal Newsreel (1929–1967) and The March of Time (1935–1951).