British film and TV rights and distribution histories

Please note: all information detailed here is subject to change and different circumstances may apply in different territories and for various formats. This material is offered as a starting point for research and is based only on the information available to the bfi at the time at which this site was updated.

Many UK films are independent productions or co-productions and, unlike much Hollywood studio output, are often not handled through integrated distribution and rights structures.

Two of the larger current rights holders to the catalogues of past British film and television companies are Canal + Image UK and Granada International.

Canal + Image UK

Canal + Image UK (part of the European media company Canal+) acquired the UGC (DA) film library in 1996 (previously the EMI/Cannon/Weintraub/Lumiere catalogue). This library includes material produced by Associated British, British Lion and Ealing Studios.

Granada International

Following the merger of Carlton International and the existing Granada International operation in 2004, Granada International owns the rights to material produced by Rank, Gainsborough Pictures, London Films and the ITC Group amongst others. As a division of ITV plc, Granada International also owns the rights to the inhouse productions of ITV plc's regional broadcasters.

Current information on British film and TV companies and past collections

  • Anglo-Amalgamated films were bought by EMI, then Cannon, then Weintraub Entertainment, then Movie Acquisitions Corporation, which was renamed Lumiere Pictures, then UGC (DA), now with Canal + Image UK.
  • Associated British Picture Corporation (ABPC) films were bought by EMI, then Cannon, then Weintraub Entertainment, then Movie Acquisitions Corporation, which was renamed Lumiere Pictures, then UGC (DA), now with Canal + Image UK.
  • Associated British Film Distributors (ABFD) as Associated British Picture Corporation above.
  • Associated Rediffusion film and television library is owned by Archbuild Ltd.
  • ATV productions were bought by ITC, the collection was subsequently bought by PolyGram Television then Carlton International and is now owned by Granada International.
  • British International Pictures (BIP) films were bought by EMI, then Cannon, then Weintraub Entertainment, then Movie Acquisitions Corporation, which was renamed Lumiere Pictures, then UGC (DA), now with Canal + Image UK.
  • British Lion Film Corporation was taken over by EMI in 1976, the collection was subsequently sold to Cannon, then Weintraub Entertainment, then Movie Acquisitions Corporation, which was renamed Lumiere Pictures, then UGC (DA), now with Canal + Image UK. The British Lion name continued post-1976 in an independent production capacity.
  • British Transport Films all rights currently with bfi for British Rail films only. The various transport bodies may otherwise hold rights for their respective areas of activity.
  • Cannon bought library previously owned by EMI, subsequently bought by Weintraub Entertainment, then Movie Acquisitions Corporation, which was renamed Lumiere Pictures, then UGC (DA), now with Canal + Image UK.
  • Carlton International merged with Granada International in 2004 to form Granada International.
  • Ealing Studios productions went to Cannon, then Weintraub Entertainment, then Movie Acquisitions Corporation, which was renamed Lumiere Pictures, then UGC (DA), now with Canal + Image UK.
  • Electric Pictures was bought by Alliance Communications. UK distribution of films previously handled by Electric and films released under the Alliance Releasing name is now through Momentum Pictures.
  • EMI Film Distributors was sold to Cannon in 1986, then Weintraub Entertainment, then Movie Acquisitions Corporation, which was renamed Lumiere Pictures, then UGC (DA), now with Canal + Image UK.
  • Euston Films was a subsidiary of Thames Television, now owned by Fremantle Media.
  • Gainsborough Pictures went to Rank Film Distributors; the Rank film library was subsequently bought by Carlton International and is now owned by Granada International.
  • Gaumont-British Picture Corporation features went to Rank Film Distributors; the Rank film library was subsequently bought by Carlton International and is now owned by Granada International.
  • Gaumont-British News was taken over by Visnews, which became Reuters TV; the Reuters archive is now handled by ITN Archive.
  • General Film Distributors (GFD) became Rank Film Distributors; the Rank film library was subsequently bought by Carlton International and is now owned by Granada International.
  • HandMade Films rights are held by Equator Films.
  • Helkon SK has reverted to the name Redbus Film Distribution. Redbus Film Distribution was bought in 2001 by Helkon Media
  • ITC film and television library was bought by PolyGram Television then Carlton International and is now owned by Granada International.
  • London Electronic Arts merged with The London Filmmakers' Co-op in 1999 to form The Lux.
  • London Filmmakers' Co-op merged with London Electronic Arts in 1999 to form The Lux.
  • London Films was founded by Alexander Korda. All Korda titles were bought by Central TV, and are therefore now owned by Granada International. London Films still exist as a production company.
  • Lumiere Pictures catalogue was bought by UGC (DA) and is now with Canal + Image UK.
  • Movie Acquisitions Corporation formed to buy library from Weintraub Entertainment which was subsequently renamed Lumiere Pictures, then bought by UGC (DA), now with Canal + Image UK.
  • Pearson Television was renamed Fremantle Media in 2001.
  • PolyGram Filmed Entertainment was bought by Seagram and re-named Universal Pictures International (UPI). The ITC collection was sold to Carlton; pre-1996 PolyGram productions were sold to MGM. Theatrical distribution for UPI in the UK is now through UIP (United International Pictures). Video distribution continues through Universal Pictures Video (UPV).
  • Rank Film Distributors catalogue was bought by Carlton International in 1997 and is now owned by Granada International.
  • Rediffusion, see Associated Rediffusion above.
  • Romulus films rights are with Granada International.
  • Thames Television is owned by Fremantle Media (formerly Pearson Television).
  • Two Cities Films productions were handled by General/Rank Film Distributors. The Rank film library was subsequently bought by Carlton International and is now owned by Granada International.
  • UGC (DA) (Union General Cinematographique) bought the Lumiere Pictures library, subsequently bought by Canal + Image UK.
  • Weintraub Entertainment Group bought the Cannon film library in 1987, then bought by Movie Acquisitions Corporation, which was renamed Lumiere Pictures, then UGC (DA), now with Canal + Image UK.
  • Winchester Film Distribution is now called ContentFilm following the merger of Winchester Entertainment and ContentFilm.

Any information that can assist in keeping this listing up-to-date is gratefully received by Information Services.