Cineworld

103, including 6 closed, 1 closed and reopened, and 8 sold

Originally called Cine-UK, this circuit was founded in April 1995, specifically to bid for the Cannon-MGM circuit, by chief executive Steve Weiner, formerly managing director of Warner Bros in the UK. However, when this did not go ahead a circuit of new ‘Cineworld the Movies’ multiplexes was developed.

The first, at Stevenage, was opened by comedian and television personality Bob Monkhouse, assisted by fortune teller Mystic Meg, at a grand ceremony on Monday 8 July 1996, four days before its public opening.

The circuit was purchased by US private equity group Blackstone in October 2004 for around £120m. In December 2004 Blackstone also purchased UGC Cinema Holdings Ltd for around £200m. (ABC Cinemas, under Thorn EMI Screen Entertainment ownership, commenced construction of their first, and only, multiplex at Salford Quays in 1986. By the time it opened, the company had been acquired by Cannon. At the same time, Cineplex Odeon’s projected UK circuit of Gallery multiplexes had started – and ended – with the acquisition, from the Maybox Group, a live theatre operator, of the Maybox Movie Centre (a conversion of the Fulcrum Centre) at Slough.

In April 1990, that, and other projected sites, was also purchased by Cannon. In November 1990, Pathe Communications Group, Cannon’s parent company, purchased MGM/UA. In March 1991 the Cannon circuit became MGM Cinemas Ltd (though not all the cinemas were re-branded). On 21 July 1995, the circuit was purchased by Virgin Cinemas. 90 ‘traditional’ High Street cinemas were subsequently sold to Cinven, as an assisted management buy-out, for £68m, in 1996, with Virgin retaining (and re-branding) the more modern multiplexes. But Virgin eventually sold their cinemas to French entertainment group UGC (Union General Cinematographique) in October 1999.

UGC had been formed in 1971 following a merger of a number of French regional circuits. In acquiring a presence in the UK the group hoped to provide a showcase for European films to counter Hollywood’s dominance. UGC was owned by company president Guy Verrechia and his family and Vivendi Universal; the latter providing a link to the UCI circuit.

In October 2003 the Warner Village multiplex at Nottingham was acquired from Village Cinemas. The UGC cinemas were re-branded as Cineworld between July and November 2005.)

In early 2006 five multiplexes were sold to Cinema Holdings 2 Ltd [Empire Cinemas] under divestment requirements from the Office of Fair Trading.

On 27 April 2007 Blackstone floated the company on the London stock market, reducing its stake to 53.5%. In April 2008 Cineworld decided not to purchase the Showcase multiplex at Wood Green, north London (according to Cinema Business 44 p6). A “brand revolution” started its roll out in spring 2009 (Cinema Business 55 p4).

On 19 September 2009 Blackstone sold 57% of its stake for £62.9m. In June 2010 Cineworld acquired the multiplex in the Greenwich 02 centre, which had been operated by Vue, on a 25 year lease.

In April 2011 it was announced that Cineworld was to buy Spanish circuit Cinesur Circuito Sanchez-Ramade, which has 11 multiplexes and the potential to expand further because the Spanish market is dominated by smaller operators. In June 2011 Cineworld opened three luxury Screening Rooms at Cheltenham. If successful, these will be rolled out to other cinemas.

On 6 December 2012, Cineworld purchased the Picturehouse (City Screen) cinemas for £47.3m, promising that the art-house circuit would operate as “a standalone division of Cineworld”. The following year, Cineworld was instructed by the Competition Commission to sell one of its two cinemas in Cambridge, the Arts Picturehouse or the multiplex. Eventually, in January 2015, the multiplex was sold to Light Cinemas (it closed as Cineworld on 29 January).

On 28 July 2016 Cineworld acquired five cinemas from Empire for £94m. These were two non-multiplexes, what had been the Empire flagship in Leicester Square and their four-screen cinema at Bromley, and three multiplexes, at Basildon, Hemel Hempstead and Poole. (The deal also included the sale of the Cineworld Haymarket to Empire.)

ex-Cannon

Salford Quays [8] 19 December 1986. Closed 2001
Glasgow (Parkhead) [7] 28 April 1989
Southampton [5] 21 July 1989
Eastbourne [6] 31 August 1990 [Cineplex Odeon project]
Chester [6] 8 December 1990 [Cineplex Odeon project]: Closed 10 October 2013
Gloucester (Peel Centre) [6] 14/28? December 1990 [Cineplex Odeon project]. Closed 5 December 2013
Bedford [6] 20 December 1990 [Cineplex Odeon project]
Staples Corner (Brent Cross) [6] 4 January 1991[Cineplex Odeon project] Closed 14 August 2016
Harlow (Queensgate) [6] 12 April 1991 [Cineplex Odeon project]

ex-Maybox Movie Centre (Maybox Group)/Gallery (Cineplex Odeon)

Slough [10] 3 November 1987. Sold to Empire

ex-MGM

Swindon (Shaw Ridge Leisure Park) [7] 28 March 1991
Brighton [8] 3 May 1991 [Cineplex Odeon project]
Stockport [10] 6 September 1991 [Cineplex Odeon project]
Liverpool [8] 30 September 1991 [Cineplex Odeon project] Closed 14 July 2016
London (Trocadero) [7] 1 Nov. 1991 [Cineplex Odeon project] Closed 14 September 2014. Reopened by Picturehouse June 2015
B’ham (Arcadian Centre) [9] 15 Nov. 1991. Closed 6 November 2003
Belfast (City Centre) [10] 16 June 1993. Sold to Movie House
Northampton [9] 15 December 1995

ex-Virgin

Rochester [9] 8 August 1996
Wigan [11] 12 December 1996. Sold to Empire Cinemas
Aberdeen (Queens Links Leisure Park) [9] July 1997
Boldon Colliery October 1997
Newport (South Wales/Spytty Park) [13] November 1997
Birmingham (Rubery) [13] 3 April 1998. Sold to Empire Cinemas
Ipswich [11] 1 May 1998
Sheffield [20/“Megaplex”] 5 November 1998
Bolton [15] 4 December 1998
Crawley [15/“Megaplex”] 29 January 1999

ex-UGC

Dundee [9] 16 September 1999
Edinburgh [13] 26 November 1999
Hull [9] 5 May 2000
West India Quay [10] 2 June 2000
Birmingham (Broad Street) [12] 14 July 2000
Enfield [15] October 2000
East Didsbury [11] April 2001
Middlesbrough [11] 1 June 2001
Cardiff [15] July 2001
Glasgow (Renfrew Street) [18] 20 September 2001

ex-Village Roadshow

Nottingham [12, later 14] 2 March 2001

opened as Cineworld, continued

Bury St Edmunds [8] 18 November 2005
Cheltenham [11, plus 3 “Screening Rooms” opened June 2011] 24 March 2006
Didcot [5] 4 May 2007
High Wycombe [12] 14 March 2008
Haverhill [5] 10 October 2008
Witney [5] 30 October 2009
Aberdeen (Union Square) [10] 30 October 2009

leased as Cineworld

Greenwich (O2) [11] [June 2010]

opened as Cineworld, continued

Leigh [7] 18 November 2011
Aldershot [7] 26 October 2012
Wembley [9] 24 October 2013
Gloucester (Quays) [10] 6 December 2013
St. Neots [6] 16 May 2014
Telford [11] 7 August 2014
Swindon (Regent Circus) [6] 6 February 2015
Broughton [11] 8 May 2015
Glasgow (Silverburn) [14] 26 June 2015
Birmingham (NEC) [11] 23 October 2015
Newport (South Wales/Friars Walk) [8] 12 November 2015
Fareham (Whiteley) [9] 19 November 2015
Hinckley [5] 4 December 2015
Stoke-on-Trent (Hanley) [9] 18 December 2015
Yate [6] 29 April 2016
Loughborough [8] 18 May 2016

EX-EMPIRE

Basildon [12, plus 6 Studios] [July 2016]
Hemel Hempstead [8] In October 2015 the original screens were demolished and replaced by 9 new screens on the original site and 5 new screens, plus IMAX and IMPACT screens, on adjoining land = [16] [July 2016]
Poole [10, plus 6 Studios opened 28 July 2011] [July 2016]

OPENED AS CINEWORLD, CONTINUED

Murton (Dalton Park) [7] 9 September 2016
Harlow (Harvey Centre) [6] 9 December 2016