Charles Pathé and his success in the film business

On December 26 in the year 1863, one of the most important pioneers in the film and recording industry was born in Chevry-Cossigny, France. His name was Charles Pathé, a film producer and director who controlled production and distribution of films in France, England, Spain, and United States.

Charles Pathé
Charles Pathé (Credit:

Charles Pathé was the son of a butcher shop owner. He left school at age 14 and started working in the family business. In 1889, he entered military service. Later, he travelled to Argentina in search of business opportunities. Unsuccessful and in poor health, he returned to France in 1893.

In 1894, Charles Pathé attended a town fair and bought an Edison Camera. In 1896, he and his brothers formed Société Pathé Frères (Pathé Brothers Society) to manufacture and distribute phonographs, cinema projection equipment and other related products. Later, it acquired the right to distribute Eastman Kodak products. Not long after, the company began producing films.

In the early parts of the 20th century, Pathé Brothers established production facilities, film laboratories, technical services and distribution offices in other parts of Europe and the United States. It also mass produced hundreds of short films with themes ranging from melodramatic to adventures and comedy. In 1909, it made its first long film based on the novel les Miserables of Victor Hugo.

In 1908, Charles founded the Omnia Chain of cinemas. By this time, Pathé Brothers was the world’s largest motion picture producer. In the next decade however, competition from Hollywood became intense and production slowed down until it folded in 1934.

Charles Pathé died in 1957 at the age of 93.


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