Film Factories in the 1920s and 1930s
Although the name Polygoon was synonymous with Dutch newsreels, that doesn’t mean that Filmfabriek Polygoon was the only producer who made them. Both the Kinematograaf Pathé Frères and Willy Mullens’ Haghe Film released newsreels in the 1910s; the Pathe Journaal primarily consisted of foreign films to which an occasional Dutch item was added.
Rivals in the reels
Polygoon made its first newsreel in 1921. In that year, there were five newsreels; after that there were 14 in 1922 and 21 in 1923. In the years that followed, the number gradually increased, but it wasn’t until 1932 that Polygoon started a weekly newsreel with sound.
In the meantime, competition had appeared from several other companies. The first was Orion Filmfabriek from The Hague, which started up in July 1925. Orion made company films and commissioned films, but also produced its own newsreel, the Orion Revue. Polygoon originally considered merging with Orion, but in the end, that never happened.
On 28 May 1929, Polygoon’s second competitor started up in The Hague: the production department of the Nederlandsche Bioscoop Trust (NBT) split off and called itself Filmfabriek Profilti. They made commissioned and advertisement films.
In early 1931 Profilti and Orion joined forces. They wanted to work together to produce a newsreel that would rival those by Polygoon. On 3 July 1931, just a few weeks after Polygoon had presented its first newsreel with sound, Orion-Profilti screened Nederland in klank en beeld, its own newsreel with sound. The Orion Revue continued to exist as the silent version of the newsreel.
The co-operation between Profilti and Orion lasted only a year and a half; in November 1932, Orion pulled out of the partnership. It continued to make the Orion Revue for a few more months, and February 1933 saw the release of the last edition. After that, Orion, which also earned money by making announcement titles, suspended all activities.
A secret takeover and forced co-operation
After the split, it wasn’t just Orion that had trouble: Profilti ran into financial difficulties as well. The management came up with an unexpected solution: Profilti was secretly taken over in mid-1933 by Polygoon, and both companies merged under a new venture: the Vereenigde Nederlandsche Filmfabrieken For the outside world nothing changed and both companies remained producing their own newsreels. From that moment on, the two companies were no longer competitors; instead, they enjoyed a co-operative mutual relationship.
After the Netherlands was invaded during WWII, the Germans forced both film factories to work together: they now produced one newsreel together. This co-operation was rendered permanent after the war when Polygoon and Profilti merged to become Polygoon-Profilti-Producties.
Besides Polygoon and its two competitors in The Hague, there were also a few other small companies who made newsreels. The best known of these was Filmfabriek Holland from Amsterdam, owned by W.A. MacLean. Filmfabriek Holland produced their own newsreel with sound called Holland Beeld en Klank Revue that was shown in the Cineac in Amsterdam.