Gaumont Studios

   Gaumont Studios began in 1895 as a camera manufacturing company founded by Léon Gaumont. That same year, as a result of Gaumont secretary Alice Guy, the company was also turned into a film production company and ultimately a movie studio and production and distribution company. Guy was the first studio head, and she was later replaced by Louis Feuillade.
   For a number of years, Gaumont et Cie. engaged in both the manufacture and sale of camera equipment and the making and distribution of films. In addition to Guy and Feuillade, Gaumont brought in a number of other directors, including Romeo Bosetti, Camille de Morhon, and Victorin Jasset. However, in 1906, shortly after the construction of the Gaumont Studios at Les Buttes Chaumont, the filmmaking and distribution was split off into a subsidiary called Les Établissements Gaumont, and Gaumont et Cie. focused on camera equipment manufacture and sales.
   The performance of the equipment side of the firm was uneven. The first attempts to market the chronophone failed. This was, at first, due to the nonstandard nature of the equipment (the camera used unperforated film, unlike the Lumière camera). Gaumont, along with help, made some modifications and was able to develop a camera that used more standard 35mm perforated film, and this model fared somewhat better. However, problems with the image quality persisted. In fact, Guy herself had to reshoot entire scenes on occasion due to poor image quality. Nonetheless, the chronophone and the phonoscènes shot with it remain part of one of the first attempts to produce synchronous sound and image in cinema, and they preceeded the "talkies" by several decades.
   In the domain of film production and distribution, Gaumont Studios was also a pioneer. It was the first studio to utilize the system of distribution rentals rather than direct film sales. This system still governs film distribution today. Prior to Gaumont, films were purchased by those who wished to show them, and this made it much more expensive. Gaumont was also one of the studios to construct its own movie theaters in which to show his films, the first and most magnificent of which was the famed Gaumont Palace, built by Gaumont in 1900 by converting the Hippodrome at the Place Clichy into a cinema.
   In 1938, under the direction of Gaumont's replacement, Louis Aubert, Gaumont was declared insolvent. The company was seized and reorganized under the name Société des Nouveaux Établissements Gaumont. It underwent several subsequent reorganizations. However, it has managed to remain one of the three largest film production and distribution studios in France, as well as one of the most important in the world.
   Historical Dictionary of French Cinema by Dayna Oscherwitz & Mary Ellen Higgins

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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