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Gaumont Film Company
Gaumont Film Company - Logo

Type

Pulic

Industry

Motion pictures

Founded

1895

Headquarters

Neuilly-sur-Seine, France

Products

Motion pictures
Television programs
Film Distribution

Gaumont Film Company is a French mini-major film studio founded by the engineer-turned-inventor Léon Gaumont (1864–1946). It is the first and oldest continuously operating film company in the world, founded before other studios such as Pathé, founded in 1896, as well as Nordisk Film, founded in 1906, and Universal Studios and Paramount Pictures, which were both founded in 1912. Gaumont predominately produces, co-produces, and distributes films (95% of Gaumont's 2011 consolidated revenues came from the film division). However, the company is increasingly becoming a TV series producer with its new American subsidiary Gaumont International Television as well as its existing French production features. It's the world's seventh largest mini-major film studio.

HistoryEdit

BeginningEdit

Originally dealing in photographic apparatus, the company began producing short films in 1897 to promote its make of camera-projector. Léon Gaumont's secretary Alice Guy-Blaché became the motion picture industry’s first female director and she went on to become the Head of Production of the Gaumont film studio from 1897 to 1907. From 1905 to 1914, its Cité Elgé studios (from the normal French pronunciation of the founder's initials L-G) at La Villette, France, were the largest in the world.

The company manufactured its own equipment and mass-produced films until 1907, when Louis Feuillade became the artistic director of Gaumont. When World War I broke out, he was replaced by Léonce Perret, who continued his career in the United States a few years later.[citation needed] The company headquarters are in Neuilly-sur-Seine.

Gaumont opened foreign offices and acquired theatre chains Gaumont British, which later notably produced several Hitchcock films such as The 39 Steps (1935) and The Lady Vanishes (1938). Along with its giant competitor Pathé Frères, Gaumont dominated the motion-picture industry in Europe until the outbreak of World War I in 1914. Gaumont also constructed the Lime Grove Studios.

Following World War I, Gaumont suffered economic losses due to increased competition from American Hollywood productions. In 1925, the studio's output had decreased to only 3 films. In addition, Gaumont was unable to keep pace with the cost of technological changes (e.g., the advent of sound movies). Struck by mounting debts in the early 1930s and the effects of the Great Depression, Gaumont declared bankruptcy in 1935. In 1937, the studio ceased production and operated only as a theater and distribution company. The company was purchased by the French corporation Havas in 1938, renamed Société Nouvelle des Etablissements Gaumont and reopened its film production studio.

During the later years of World War II, Gaumont was effected by the financial ruin of France's economy as well as the physical destruction of its facilities. The company ceased production until 1947. The global interest in French New Wave films in the 1950s, as well as the permissiveness within French films (e.g., nudity), allowed French productions to outcompete the puritanical restrictions of American films and saw the return to prominence by Gaumont Studios.

In 1975, media tycoon and French old money heir multi-millionaire Nicolas Seydoux started managing Gaumont; he personally owned 60% of the shares and 70% of the votes.

On February 2, 2000, Philippe Binant, technical manager of Digital Cinema Project at Gaumont, realized the first digital cinema projection in Europe with the Texas Instruments prototype projector.

In 2001, Gaumont spun off the cinema division into a joint-venture with Pathé since known as Les Cinémas Gaumont Pathé. Gaumont owns a 34% stake in the entity, which controls a large cinema network in France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. As of 2011, this stake is worth €214 million. In 2004, Gaumont continued its development with Pathé to set up another joint-venture, Gaumont-Pathé Archives. Gaumont owns 57.5% of this entity, which contains newsreels, documentaries, and silent movies from the 20th and 21st Century.

From January 2004 to 2007, the company had a partnership with Sony for producing films and for theater and DVD distribution worldwide. For many years, Gaumont's home video division was a joint venture with Sony Pictures Entertainment. Currently, Gaumont distributes its films through Paramount Pictures on video in France.

At the end of 2007, Gaumont took over the French animation studio Alphanim for €25 million and renamed it Gaumont-Alphanim.

On December 16, 2010, Gaumont acquired a 37.48% stake in the share capital of the Légende company and its subsidiaries for €6.6 million. Légende is a full-length film and television series production and distribution company managed by Alain Goldman. As of 2011, the Légende stake is worth €6.3 million.

2011 was also the year that Gaumont opened its Gaumont International Television division in Los Angeles, US.

In 2011, Gaumont co-produced and distributed Intouchables became France's highest grossing movie of all time. The international release of Intouchables was equally successful, trumping previous international blockbusters such as Harry Potter and Transporters in Germany. Intouchables is the highest-grossing foreign-language movie (any language other than English) beating the previous record of $275 million by the Japanese Spirited Away. The film was a major catalyst for Gaumont boosting fourth quarter 2011 cinema sales to €47.9 million, up 651% year on year. The film's success turned a half year 2011 loss to a record annual €26 million profit. Intouchables currently has a box-office of $361 million.

In 2012, Gaumont acquired the production company Nouvelles Editions de Films (NEF) for €3.1 million. The company was previously run and created by cinema legend Louis Malle. As part of the acquisition, Gaumont now owns the entire Malle collection, including Ascenseur pour l'échafaud, Atlantic City, and Au revoir, les enfants.

In February 2012, Gaumount restarted their Television division that was defunct for about ten years.

ProductionEdit

Gaumont currently has 938 films in its catalogue, most of which are in the French language, but there are some exceptions such as Luc Besson's The Fifth Element. Among some of the most notable films produced by Gaumont are the serials Judex and Fantômas; the comic Onésime series, starring Ernest Bourbon; and the comic Bébé series, starring five-year-old René Dary. The two biggest films that Gaumont own the rights of are Jean-Marie Poiré's Les Visiteurs, with a box-office of $98 million and the 2011 blockbuster Intouchables by Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano, with a box office of $361 million.

Directors such as Abel Gance, Alfred Hitchcock, and the early animator Emile Cohl worked for the studio at one time or another.

The company has also produced television shows, including six animated series: Highlander, Space Goofs, The Magician, Dragon Flyz, and Sky Dancers (the second and third are based on their respective toy lines), and the very popular Oggy and the Cockroaches. The company also began production in its American unit Gaumont International Television on two series: Hannibal and Hemlock Grove.

Corporate structureEdit

Ciné Par is a majority shareholder with 69.92% of the voting rights: this entity is controlled by CEO Nicholas Seydoux. The other private shareholders are First Eagle Investment Management, Bolloré, and Groupe Industriel Marcel Dassault. The company has a free float of 416,784 shares, which represents 9.75% of the capital and 5.99% of the voting rights.

Latest financial informationEdit

In the first half of 2012, Gaumont recorded a profit of €7.7 million, which reversed the €0.6 million loss from the first half of 2011. The profit was driven by a 49% increase in revenue, which reached €50.1 million. The company sited the continued effects of Intouchables, which increased International revenues by 153%.

Gaumont's current market capitalization is €164 million.

Edit

Léon Gaumont selected the Leucanthemum vulgare as the company logo to pay homage to his mother, whose first name was Marguerite (Daisy). Today, in spite of regular modifications of the drawing, the daisy is always present even if its significance is forgotten.

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