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AP acquires historic British Movietone archive

The Associated Press today announced that it has acquired the historic British Movietone film archive collection from Newsreel Archive. Spanning almost a century of international events, the archive represents one of the world's most significant and important newsfilm collections. The addition of this outstanding collection of historic video to its own extensive archive ensures AP's position as the leading global supplier of contemporary and historic news video and photography.  

Originally shown in cinemas twice a week, the British Movietone archive is the first newsreel to have sound and then color film. It is renowned for containing the first recorded speeches of leading personalities such as Gandhi and George Bernard Shaw. The archive's many historic highlights also include: 

  • The rise of fascism and the outbreak of World War II

  • Over 6,000 stories covering World War II between 1939 and 1945
  • The Beatles’ conquest of America, Beatlemania and the “British Invasion” of the 1960s, featuring the Rolling Stones, the Kinks and the Who
  • The Korean and Vietnam wars
  • Extensive royal coverage, including the Edward and Mrs. Simpson story, the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, and the only footage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer’s wedding filmed in high definition on 35 mm film
  • Visits to the UK by leading historical and iconic figures, including John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe and Muhammad Ali
  • Technological change, including advances in medicine and the origins of information technology and telecommunications
  • Popular culture, including fashion, music, film and the arts 


As TV news began to take the place of cinema newsreels in the 1950s and ’60s, British Movietone’s hard news coverage was increasingly accompanied by features on social issues, entertainment,  lifestyle, sports and quirky, lighthearted stories that struggled to find a place on mainstream TV news but resonated with cinema audiences. This has left the archive collection with films that provide a social commentary on decades of history where society’s values changed at an unprecedented pace. The mission of British Movietone was to bring the world to movie audiences and, with its extensive international and British coverage, its legacy is a stunning global archive resource. 

Gary Pruitt, AP’s president and CEO, said: “The British Movietone archive is a gem of visual heritage and an incredible resource for content creators. For AP to become its new custodian is a true privilege and it perfectly complements AP’s own extensive archive collection.”

While the majority of the archive’s film assets have been fully digitized and available for licensing, around 15 percent of the collection has never been seen before and remains in its original 35 mm format. Documented on thousands of individual record cards, this unseen footage represents either the films that failed to make it onto the bulletins or were restricted by censors during World War II. AP hopes to catalog, digitize and release these films over time.  

Alwyn Lindsey, AP’s vice president of sales for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, with responsibility for video archive sales for the AP, said: “By acquiring British Movietone, we are cementing our position as the foremost supplier of news and historical video.”

For the past five years, AP has partnered with Newsreel Archive to make the British Movietone collection available internationally, including a freely accessible YouTube channel where anyone can browse a wide selection of British Movietone films. AP clients will continue to be able to access the digitized British Movietone films, the equivalent of 2,200 hours of footage, through the AP Archive platform. Having completed the sale of the British Movietone Archive, Newsreel Archive PTY will now act as AP’s exclusive archive distribution partner in Australia and New Zealand, offering their customers both AP and British Movietone footage. 

Matthew Miranda, Newsreel Archive’s CEO, said: “Through our many years of working with AP, we appreciate how the British Movietone archive collection will benefit from being further integrated within the vast AP network and made even more widely available than it is today. We look forward to continue working in close partnership with AP in Australia and New Zealand.”


Paul Colford
Vice President and Director of Media Relations
The Associated Press

Lauren Easton
Media Relations Manager
The Associated Press

Scott McLean
The Associated Press — UK inquiries
+44 (0) 7917 095 695

Matthew Miranda
Newsreel Archive
+61 (2) 9018 1524

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