New Century Animated Picture Company

Sydney Carter had acquired the lease for the St George’s Hall in Bradford in the 1890s, and was programming theatrical touring ensembles such as the D’Oyle Carte opera company. In 1901, he signed an agreement with travelling exhibitor AD Thomas whereby Thomas would provide a complete show and take 60% of the proceedings, for three periods of between two and three months up to the Coronation in mid-1902. Thomas promised to change at least one third of the programme and include a local topical each week. During that first year, Thomas travelled to London to purchase films for the show. Although Thomas filed for bankruptcy in early 1902, by then Sydney Carter was preparing to run his own film show. He obtained films from R.W. Paul, the Warwick Trading Company, Mitchell and Kenyon and Cecil Wray. New Century took over permanent or semi-permanent leases at Bradford, Leeds, Sunderland and Birmingham, the latter under Waller Jeffs’s management. These venues charged relatively high prices of admission (from 6d to 2s for the St George’s Hall in Bradford in 1903), and focused their appeal on the middle class. A similar approach was taken for their shows at the St Andrew’s Hall in Glasgow, under the direction of JJ Bennell. Even after starting business on his own accord at the Wellington Palace, Bennell retained a close connection with the firm. New Century’s seasons at the St Andrew’s Hall in Glasgow were the first example of large-scale public hall exhibition in Scotland, and they ran for at least ten years. The New Century Animated Picture Co was incorporated in 1908 with a nominal capital of £10,000, and soon afterwards it started selling equipment (mainly Kalee projectors, which were manufactured in Leeds), as well as renting films. The film hiring department became constituted as a separate company in June 1910, with a capital of £15,000, and by 1912, they claimed to have a turnover of a million feet twice a week. A London branch opened in October that year, and in 1911 the main office moves from Bradford to Leeds. By this time, they started investing in exclusive rights; New Century was one of the first British companies to adopt this practice. Their first exclusive release was Selig’s Christopher Columbus, which they promoted lavishly by taking it on tour with a full orchestra and choir. While the first months of the war seems to have affected other companies negatively, New Century’s net profit for 1914 was £4800. This is in spite of a large fire that ravaged the premises of the renting branch in Leeds. Arthur Vivian was appointed sole representative of the New Century Film Service for Scotland.

Date registered