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Name Greater Union Organisation Pty Ltd
State Victoria
Country Australia

See also Australasian Films /UnionTheatres

Known as GUO, this company is one of the largest in the film industry, with a history going back to the amalgamation of several production, distribution and exhibition companies over the years 1911-13 into Australasian Films /UnionTheatres, generally known as 'The Combine'.

In 1921, the three managing directors were W.A. Gibson (also General Manager of Australasian Films /UnionTheatres), Stuart Doyle (also director of West's). Australasion films was primarily a distribution company. Union Theatres managed the cinemas of the four holding companies.

Union Theatres were forced into liquidation in 1931 and Doyle formed a new company, Greater Union Theatres Ltd and purchased the assets of Union Theatres. The new company divested itself of Australasian Films /UnionTheatres, established Cinesound as a production subsidiary and diversified into radio, newspaper and importing. However the building and managemnt of cinemas continued to be a major focus, and in this field it competed fiercly with Company: 253 Due to the depression and falling attendance in 1933 the banks forced Greater Union and Hoyts into a merger, as the General Film Corporation.

In 1937 Norman Rydge (1900-1980) took over as managing director, and immediately separted Greater Union from General Theatres Corp. During the wartime there was a box office boom and in 1945, a half share in the company was purchased by the British Rank Organisation.

In 1958 the four holding companies in the Greater Unions Theatres group were merged into Amalgamated Holdings (see: Amalgamated Pictures Limited.

In 1965 Greater Union Theatres was renamed Greater Union Organisation.

In the sixties GUO had purchased an interest in Western Australian Ace Group and in Village Theatres. In 1971 GUO acquired most of the MGM theatres in australia.

Though Norman Rydge had been replaced by managing directors Keith Moremon (1965), David Williams (1975) and Alan Rydge (1980) he remained chairman till 1970 , and the Rydge family company Amalgmated Holdings continued to be seen as the major Australian shareholder. In 1984 Amalgamated Holdings bought out Rank and GUO became once again fully Australian owned.

In 1987, Greater Union Film Distributors merged with Village Roadshow Distributors to form the distribution company Roadshow Film Distributors.


Tod, L 'The Greater Union story' Kino no. 14

1932 'COMPANY MERGER.', The Argus, 15 October, p. 23, viewed 29 October, 2011,

1958 'Theatre group merger' Sun February 5
1971 'Massive cinema takeover' Age April 5

1962 'GU history is the story of films in Australia' Film Weekly April 3

1980 'Rydge family strikes gold on silver screen' Bulletin July 29, pp. 88-90