The Rise of Distribution

On 30 June 1909, Alberts Frères placed an ad in the newspaper Haarlem’s Dagblad announcing that they had purchased the screening rights for films from Pathé Frères (Paris), Urban Trading (London) and Gaumont Bruxelles (Belgium). The emergence of a distributor acting as an intermediary between producer and exhibitor was a fundamental change in Dutch film screening practices.

This development meant it was relatively affordable for cinema owners to rent new films or film programmes, which made it financially viable to run a cinema. Within a few years’ time, the cinemas would dominate the screening circuit, thereby pushing the traditional film exhibitors such as travelling showmen and variety proprietors into the margins of the film industry.

The first company to start renting films in the Netherlands was probably FAN Film, owned by Franz Anton Nöggerath, sen. and his son Franz Anton Nöggerath, jun. F.A. Nöggerath, sen. was the British The Warwick Trading Company’s representative in northwestern Europe at that time and also traded in films by Pathé. He was able to supply Alberts Frères with new films after a fire destroyed their entire collection while they were travelling through Belgium.

In 1910 Jean Desmet followed Nöggerath’s example and traded in his travelling cinema for a rental business. Desmet originally traded in complete film programmes that he bought at German film markets and then rented out to the many recently opened cinemas. By the end of 1911, he had shifted to renting out individual films. The third important distributor from these early years was the Kinematograaf Pathé Frères.

Together, each of these parties supplied films to the cinemas; as a part of the infrastructure, they were also partly responsible for cinema’s explosive growth during the period 1910-1912.  


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