Associated British Picture Corporation

Associated British Picture Corporation

Associated British Picture Corporation (ABPC), originally British International Pictures (BIP), was a British film production, distribution and exhibition company active from 1927 until 1970. ABPC also owned approximately 500 cinemas in Britain in 1943. [ [,9171,932665-2,00.html Cinemonopoly - TIME ] ]


The company was founded in 1927 by Scottish solicitor John Maxwell after he had purchased British National Studios and their Elstree Studios complex and merged it with his ABC cinema circuit, renaming the company British International Pictures. Under Maxwell's paternalistic management the company prospered and in 1937, after acquisition of British Pathé, the company was renamed Associated British Picture Corporation and was in a position to control production, distribution and exhibition of films, and challenge American dominance of the industry. However, after Maxwell's death in 1940, his widow Catherine sold a large number of shares to Warner Brothers, who, although the Maxwell family remained the largest shareholders, were able to exercise a measure of control. In their early years the company's most prominent work was that directed by Alfred Hitchcock, including his 1929 feature "Blackmail", which is commonly regarded as being the first British all-talkie. Hitchcock left the company in 1933 to work for rival British Gaumont. Much of the output of the studio was routine and decidedly British, which restricted its success outside the UK, but after World War II, the company signed a deal with Warner (by now the largest shareholder) for the distribution of its films in the United States and the company was to produce some of its best and most well-remembered work during this period, including films such as "The Dam Busters" (1954), "Ice-Cold in Alex" (1958), and "Summer Holiday" (1963).

In 1955, ABPC also became the parent company of a new British ITV television franchise contractor, Associated British Corporation, which held the commercial television licence for broadcasting to the Midlands and the North of England at weekends. This company, through a 'shotgun' merger with Rediffusion Television, later became Thames Television, and although it lost its broadcasting franchise in 1992 still exists in the form of the talkbackTHAMES independent production company.

During the 1960s, however, the fortunes of the company slumped, and in 1967 Seven Arts, the new owners of Warner, decided to dispose of its holdings in ABPC and in 1969 it was purchased by EMI who subsequently sold the cinema subsidiary to the Cannon Group. The following year ABPC was renamed EMI Films, under which title it was still an active concern in the film industry until 1990.

* Wholly owned subsidiaries of Associated British Picture Corporation Ltd.

Associated British Productions Ltd. "Film production and Elstree Studios."

Associated British Cinemas Ltd.

Associated British – Pathé Ltd. "Documentaries and newsreel."

Associated British Film Distributors Ltd.

British and Overseas Film Sales Ltd.

Pathé Laboratories Ltd.

Associated British Cinemas (Television) Ltd.

Associated British Corporation Ltd. "Television production and broadcasting."

Jointly Owned.

Warner-Pathé Distributors Ltd. (50%)

Anglo-Amalgamated Film Distributors. (50%)


*Alexander, Lou. [ "Associated British Picture Corporation (1933-1970)"] . British Film Institute "Screenonline". URL accessed 7 February 2006.

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