Rank Organisation


Rank Organisation

The Rank Organisation was a British entertainment company formed in 1937 and absorbed in 1996 by The Rank Group Plc. Its film division once distributed Universal Pictures releases in the UK.

Origin

The Rank Organisation was created by J. Arthur Rank in 1937 to consolidate all of his interests in the film industry. A history of these interests prior to 1937 is found under the entry for J. Arthur Rank.

Growth

From its inception in 1937 the Rank Organisation became a major force in British film making, distribution and exhibition. Its trade mark was characterised by its corporate logo of the Gongman and it acquired these properties:-

1938: Odeon cinema chain. After its creation, it was allegedly named after its founder's own ambition: "Oscar Deutsch Entertains Our Nation", but this was just a publicity myth.

1939: Amalgamated Studios in Borehamwood.

1941: Gaumont-British Picture Corporation, who also owned Gainsborough Pictures, 251 cinemas, and the Lime Grove Studios which were sold to the BBC in 1949.

1942: Paramount cinema chain.

Late 1940s: majority share in Allied Cinemas and Irish Cinemas Ltd., becoming the largest exhibition circuit in Ireland (a position it maintained until the early 1980s).

Assets

Eventually the Rank Organisation owned five major film studios, which included Pinewood Film Studios, Denham Film Studios, Ealing Studios, Lime Grove Studios and Islington Studios. The company also built up a chain of 650 cinemas.

Independent Producers Ltd. employed some of Britain's greatest directors, such as Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger ("Black Narcissus", "The Red Shoes", "I Know Where I'm Going!"), David Lean ("Brief Encounter", "Great Expectations"), Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat ("I See A Dark Stranger", "The Happiest Days of Your Life"), Ken Annakin ("Holiday Camp") and Muriel Box ("The Seventh Veil").

1945: The Company of Youth, the Rank Organisation acting school often referred to as "The Charm School", launched several careers including those of Diana Dors and Christopher Lee. Although she was not a member of the school, Petula Clark was under contract to Rank for a period of time and starred in a number of films released by the studio, including "London Town", one of the costliest flops in British film history. Also under contract to Rank was the Canadian actor Philip Gilbert.

1959 to 1969: the company made over 500 weekly short cinema films in a series entitled
Look At Life, each film depicting an area of British life.

1966 to 1978, the Rank Organization took over production and distribution of the Carry On films, after Anglo-Amalgamated announced they did not want any more "Carry On" titles produced under them.

Diversification

1949: a financial crisis forced the Rank Organisation to sell its Lime Grove, and Islington Studios. Beginning that same year, the company bought the Bush Radio manufacturing facility and began to diversify its interests. In the early 1960s Rank took over Murphy Radio to form the Rank Bush Murphy Group, which was eventually sold to Great Universal Stores in 1978.

1952: J. Arthur Rank stepped down as CEO of the Rank Organisation, but remained as Chairman until 1962. Under the management of Sir John Davis the Rank Organisation closed Independent Producers Ltd. and its Denham Studios, to consolidate all of its film production at Pinewood Studios.

1956: Rank began a partnership with the Haloid Corporation to form Rank Xerox.

1958: Rank becomes part of the consortium that bids successfully for the ITV south franchise which becomes Southern Television.

In the late 1950s, Rank also produced sound carriers as Rank Records Ltd. (The U.S.A. subsidiary label was named Top Rank) and Jaro Records (a Jazz-subsidiary). In 1961, Top Rank was taken over by EMI.

1960: Rank Audio Visual was created, bringing together Rank's acquisitions in multimedia, including Bell and Howell (acquired with Gaumont British in 1941), Andrew Smith Harkness Ltd (1952) and Wharfedale Ltd (1958). Subsequent acquisitions included Strand Electric Holdings (1968) and H.J. Leak & Co. (1969).

Decline

The Rank Organisation ceased film production in 1980.Fact|date=February 2007 In October 1996, The Rank Group Plc became a holding company, owning all the outstanding shares of The Rank Organisation.

Over time, the traditional businesses of the Rank Organisation were gradually sold by the newly formed Rank Group.

1996: The Rank Organisation re-established as The Rank Group plc holding company. Rank Amusements sells its inland amusement centres as part of a MBO.

April 1997: Rank Film Distributors sold to Carlton Communications (since merged into Granada International) for £65 million. Note: At the time of this sale, the then new Rank website stated that this was the classic back-catalogue only , and that their business of actually distributing current films to cinemas was unaffected. In the same month, Rank announces it will cut middle management wages in its clubs and casinos by £2000.

1996: The first tranche of Rank Xerox equity is sold to the USA parent company, Xerox.

1997: Butlins, park of Rank Groups holiday division, announces a major fall in bookings.

A further tranche of Rank Xerox equity is disposed of, netting Rank Group £1.5 billion to date.

1998: Rank announces plans to sell 53 of its nightclubs, plus the US and Oasis holidays divisions. (The US Holidays division is retained and is one of the few remaining businesses from this era)

1998: Analysts claim the Rank Group is prone to takeover having received a number of approaches regarding the breakup of its £2bn business. Rank later claim to be discussing the package sale of 19 nightclubs to various companies.

Carlton Communications is said to be considering a bid for the Rank video duplication business, later to become Deluxe Media Services.

1999: In January, Rank withdraws its 3 year old Lake District 'Oasis' holiday village from sale. In November, the Nightclubs business is sold for £150m. The same year both Haven Catered Parks (£8m) and Butlins Hotels (£7m) are disposed of

2000: In February, Odeon Cinemas (£280m) and Pinewood Studios (£62m) were disposed of. Pinewood Studios was sold to a consortium led by Michael Grade and backed by 3i. In July, a stake in the then incomplete Universal Studios Escape holiday theme park in Orlando (Florida), was sold to Blackstone Group for £185m. September saw the sale of Tom Cobleigh inns for £90m. In October, the remaining UK Holidays division (Butlins, Haven, Oasis "et al." were sold for £700m cash.

2004: Rank Leisure Machine Services sold for £30m. This company supplied and serviced machines to arcades, pubs and clubs and had a good hold as an incumbent operator in many former Rank establishments.
2006: Deluxe Film Services sold to DXII Holdings Corporation for $750m. On December 7, 2006, Rank sold the Hard Rock business to the Seminole Tribe of Florida for US$965 million. Included in the deal is 124 Hard Rock Cafes, four Hard Rock Hotels, two Hard Rock Casino Hotels, two Hard Rock Live! concert venues, and stakes in three unbranded hotels. Rank is keeping the Hard Rock Casino in London, but will be changing its name. The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas is also not part of the deal, as it was sold by Rank to Morgans Hotel Group in May 2006.

The latest divestment is Deluxe, the final connection to the film-making industry being severed leaving Rank owning Grosvenor Casinos, Mecca Bingo, Blue Square and other joint entertainment interests. There is also a US holidays business, USA Resorts.

ee also

*Gongman
*"Mutual Life Insurance Co. of New York v. The Rank Organisation Ltd" [1985] BCLC 11

References

Geoffrey Macnab, "J. Arthur Rank and the British Film Industry", London, Routledge (1993), ISBN 0415072727.

Alan Wood, "Mr. Rank", London, Hodder & Stoughton (1951).

External links

* [http://www.rank.com Rank Group]
* [http://www.odeon.co.uk ODEON Cinemas]
* [http://www.iconnect.net/home/bsnpubs/toprank.html American Rank Records listing]
* [http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Venue/6784/toprank.html British Top Rank singles listing]
* [http://www.bydeluxe.com Deluxe]


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