AMC is #1 after Nordic acquisition

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European Update

After incorporating the assets of Stockholm, Sweden-based Nordic Cinema Group Holding AB into its theatre portfolio in Europe and across the U.S., AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. hit “the never-before-reached movie exhibitor milestones” of 1,000 theatres and 11,000 screens across the globe. Including Nordic’s 68 movie theatres (with 463 screens and approximately 68,000 seats) in the Nordic and Baltic nations, AMC operates as market leader in nine of its 15 countries of operation.

The Nordic transaction received antitrust clearance by the European Commission on March 21, 2017, and includes a “substantial” minority investment in another 50 associated theatres with 201 screens. All activities are conducted locally in seven markets under several brands, including SF Bio in Sweden, SF Kino in Norway, Finnkino in Finland, and Forum Cinemas in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Additional associated theatres also operate in Denmark.

As part of the official “transaction rationale,” AMC mentioned 10 more theatres in active development or redevelopment, across six countries, mostly for 2017 and 2018. “These new theatres represent a key valuation component underlying AMC’s acquisition decision, as AMC believes these theatres will deliver significant revenue and earnings growth,” the company said.

Generating revenue of SEK 3,159 million (US$375 million) for the 12-month period ending September 2016, Nordic Cinema Group’s operating margins exceeded those of AMC. The company also noted that Nordic will become a subsidiary of London-based Odeon Cinemas Group, which AMC acquired in November 2016. As part of the restructuring, Jan Bernhardsson, former president and chief executive of Nordic Cinema Group, was promoted to chief operating officer at Odeon and executive VP, AMC Europe.

Mark Way, managing director of Odeon Cinemas and president of AMC Europe, noted: “Uniting the Odeon and Nordic teams brings together some of the most experienced and respected cinema operators in Europe. Our businesses are built on very similar values of developing excellent cinemas, creating amazing experiences for our guests, and offering fantastic careers for our people. We’ll create a successful integrated business that delivers further growth through market-leading experiences for our guests.”

Odeon Cinemas Group directly operates and/or has an association with 361 theatres and 2,926 screens. Outside of the Nordic portfolio, Odeon operates in the U.K./Ireland (Odeon), Italy and Portugal (UCI), Germany/Austria (UCI Kinowelt) and in Spain (Cinesa).

“Clearly, Europe will be a significant part of the AMC growth story,” said Adam Aron, the Leawood, Kansas-based, president and chief executive officer of AMC. “As we continue to build our industry-leading European movie exhibition business,” the company “looks forward to bringing to Europe the innovative theatre experiences for which we are known in the U.S. to delight movie fans across Europe.”

BFI (South)banks on Gould

Just appointed as BFI Southbank’s head of cinemas and events, Gaylene Gould will lead “an eclectic, unique public program of agenda-setting film and television screenings” at the United Kingdom’s national cinematheque and “one of the most vibrant and important arts venues in London.” With over 20 years of cross-art-form programming, she will report to BFI programming chief Stuart Brown.

Gould will drive audience development and business planning; host events and screenings of contemporary and classic film; help coordinate BFI blockbuster projects and seasons; present one-off events, onstage interviews, premieres and previews; and regular monthly strands aimed at a wide range of audiences and educational programs.

“As a curious child,” Gould said, “it was watching astonishing, intriguing global films that helped make sense of my world and, in some ways, saved my life. The BFI has a public commitment to herald the astonishing and the intriguing and a remit to develop curious minds. I’m very much looking forward to joining the passionate team at BFI Southbank and helping a curious new generation make sense of their world.”

Kinepolis Begins Transformation in Luxembourg

Almost 18 months after the acquisition of the Utopolis chain in Luxembourg, the transition of its theatres in Kirchberg and Belval to Kinepolis will become “visible for visitors,” Kinepolis reported. On April 5, all customer transactions were switched to the software system of Kinepolis Group, also launching a new website and the Group’s Movie and Family Card subscription formulas. During that initial phase, automatic ticketing systems are being installed. The existing seats and carpet inside Kinepolis Kirchberg will be replaced and Luxembourg’s first Laser ULTRA system installed. For an additional fee, Kinepolis Cosy Seats are “even more comfortable…with extra-wide armrests, featuring a handy table for drinks and snacks, and a small coat hook.”

With permit applications being prepared for a later filing, “a bigger renovation of the Kirchberg cinema complex is planned,” Kinepolis added.

Film Academy Names Seville a Euro Treasure

The European Film Academy (EFA) bestowed its ninth location with the title of “Treasure of European Film Culture.” Plaza de España in Seville, Spain, was originally built to become the main symbol for the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition world’s fair. With its mix of Art Deco, Neo-Renaissance and Neo-Mudéjar styles, EFA wrote, Plaza de España has served as set for many films. It is “forever linked to the history of cinema by its role” in Lawrence of Arabia, however. David Lean chose Plaza de España to represent the English army headquarters and officers' club in Cairo.

The dedication ceremony will be held this November on the occasion of announcing the nominations for the European Film Awards (EFAs), which takes place in Seville every year. Bestowing the title of “Treasure” is intended “to raise public awareness for places of a symbolic nature for European cinema, places of historical value that need to be maintained and protected,” EFA says. “Not just now but also for generations to come.” Among the other cultural “Treasures” are the Eisenstein Memorial Centre in Moscow, Russia’ the house of the brothers Lumière in Lyon, France; the Bergman Center in Faro, Sweden; the Potemkin stairs in Odessa, Ukraine, and the Ferris wheel in Vienna, Austria.