Picturehouse purchased

Cineworld snaps up arthouse chain.

by Jennie Kermode

It will be business as usual at Picturehouse cinemas despite their acquisition by Cineworld, or so says the arthouse chain's managing director, Lyn Goleby. Less so for Goleby herself, who will become a multi-millionaire as a result of the deal - not bad given the company's history of science and education-focused work, which runs contrary to conventional wisdom about how to make money in the arts.

Picturehouse, which started up in 1989, runs 21 cinemas in various parts of the UK, including six in London. It also operates a distribution arm with recent releases including Electrick Children and Cave Of Forgotten Dreams. The intensive community involvement of its cinemas has won devoted fans, some of who have expressed concern over today's deal, worrying that the cinemas' individuality and focus on independent films could be lost.

Cineworld boss Stephen Wiener, who has pledged to protect jobs at Picturehouse, says he recognises the smaller company's important relationship with its fans. Cineworld is the largest such business in the UK, with 79 cinemas of its own. Concerns have been expressed about what this might mean for the diversity of films available to the public, but Cineworld has a reputation for screening independent productions in its multiplexes.

"The Picturehouse cinemas, and all that we stand for, will remain as before and will operate as a standalone division of Cineworld," Goleby said in a statement today. "The programming policy will not change, the membership schemes will remain in place and the independent identity of the cinemas will be protected."

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