British arthouse theater chain Curzon has been bought by Cohen Media Group in a deal that also includes Curzon’s distribution arm and its streaming service. The purchase adds 20 cinemas and 46 screens to the stable of Cohen Media Group, which almost exactly a year ago acquired Landmark Theatres in the U.S.
Financial details of the Curzon deal were not disclosed. But it spells the end of the involvement of the Wingate family in the chain, 85 years after Harold Wingate founded the Mayfair cinema in London to screen imported films. Charles Cohen, the owner and chairman of Cohen Media Group, assumes the role of chairman of Curzon, replacing Roger Wingate. CEO Philip Knatchbull will remain in post.
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“Among exhibitors and distributors of great films, there are few names in the international marketplace as important as Curzon and Curzon’s Artificial Eye,” its distribution arm, Cohen said. “We are thrilled to unite with this honored brand, and I look forward to working with Philip and Curzon’s highly experienced senior management team. Together, we will carry forward the Curzon brand with plans to expand it in a thoughtful and measured way.”
The acquisition continues the consolidation underway in the exhibition business. Earlier this month, U.K.-based Cineworld, which owns Regal Entertainment Group in the U.S., announced its intention to buy Cineplex, Canada’s largest exhibitor, for $2.1 billion.
Cohen Media Group, which is headquartered in New York and has a Los Angeles office, has released many of the same titles in the U.S. that Curzon’s Artificial Eye has in the U.K. The two companies said that their merger was a natural fit.
“The Curzon brand is uniquely placed to take advantage of the rapidly changing landscape in film and is easily transportable and scalable outside the U.K.,” Knatchbull said. “With Charles Cohen’s proven dedication and track record for quality film, together with his recent acquisition of the Landmark theater chain and now the addition of Curzon, he has created an important group of companies with opportunities to grow a unified platform for an ever-increasing demand for filmed content.”
Curzon’s Artificial Eye releases about 20 movies a year, including such acclaimed fare as Oscar-winning films “A Separation,” “The Great Beauty,” “Son of Saul,” and “A Fantastic Woman.” It has also released Netflix films such as “Roma” and “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” and owns a library of about 400 titles. Curzon Home Cinema is the company’s subscription streaming service.
Two years ago, BAFTA honored Curzon with a special award in recognition of its contribution to cinema in Britain.
Curzon’s original Mayfair cinema is still in operation as a two-screen venue in the posh London neighborhood of the same name. The chain’s 20 theaters are all located in and around the British capital.
Roger Wingate, the last of his family to be associated with the company, said: “Curzon has been present throughout my entire life. I will miss it but am confident that its future is in good hands.”
Cohen Media Group is the largest distributor of French films in the U.S. Its specialty label, the Cohen Film Collection, releases restored and remastered Hollywood classics and foreign films on digital platforms, Blu-ray and DVD. The company is also involved in production, with several film and television projects in the works, and recently launched its video-on-demand Cohen Media Channel.
The Curzon acquisition was negotiated by Lisbeth Savill of Latham & Watkins in London and David Fogel acting on behalf of Charles S. Cohen. Fox Williams represented Curzon in the transaction, and Jonathan Goodwin and Julian Culhane of Alvarium Investments were Curzon’s financial advisors.
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