Canadian investment groups OMERS Private Equity and Alberta Investment Management Corporation will pay £935M ($1.45B) for pan-European multiplex operator Vue Entertainment. Vue’s current owner, private equity firm Doughty Hanson, acquired the group in 2010 for £450M and expanded its holdings at home and abroad with the acquisitions of Britain’s Apollo Cinemas, Germany’s CinemaxX, and, most recently, Poland’s Multikino. The company now has 146 cinemas and 1,321 screens. The transaction is expected to close by late July. Vue founder and CEO, Tim Richards, will stay with the business.
Vue Eyes Germany, Denmark
UK exhibitor Vue Entertainment is moving deeper into Europe with the acquisition of Germany’s CinemaxX. The $172M takeover will push Vue into Germany and Denmark where CinemaxX – whose Potsdamer Platz outpost is a familiar spot for Berlin Film Fest attendees – has a combined 34 moviehouses and over 290 screens. Including its recent acquisition of the Apollo UK circuit, Vue now has 85 cinemas across the UK, Ireland, Portugal and Taiwan for nearly 800 screens. Vue is looking to close the transaction later this year pending clearance by the pertinent authorities.
Dubai Lines Up Speakers For Innovation Summit
The Dubai International Film Festival, the Center for New Cinema and event organizer Naseba will stage the first Cinematic Innovation Summit in Dubai on Dec 8 & 9. The confab will focus on the economic value of cinematic technology for various sectors including telecoms, video games and advertising and showcase innovations driven by artificial intelligence and cognitive science. Execs from the film, gaming, tech and finance worlds will convene to hear speeches given by producer Lauren Shuler Donner, Pixar
2ND UPDATE: A 5 AM walkthrough of the Royal Wedding route took place today complete with carriages, trumpeters and up to 1,000 members of the Armed Forces wearing full ceremonial uniform. Meanwhile, the first spectator has claimed his spot right outside Westminster Abbey, kitted out with flags, a sleeping bag and an umbrella. But when Prince William slides the wedding ring on Kate Middleton’s finger on April 29, will there really be an expected global audience of 2 billion watching? NBC keeps saying ”it’s completely false” that it has cut back on the number of pre-taped segments because U.S. networks may have overestimated America’s appetite for all things House of Windsor compared to 1981, when William’s father Prince Charles wed Lady Diana Spencer. This time, around 140 million U.S. viewers are expected to watch. Worldwide, when 800 million watched the Charles-Di nuptials, this time Tim Santhouse, operational manager at AP Television News Global Media Services tells me ”the volume of broadcasters coming to London, and the number of camera set-ups involved, is unprecedented in terms of interest from overseas broadcasters and the proliferation of news outlets.” AP will be providing camera set-ups and satellite uplinks for around 60 networks doing direct-to-camera pieces including Canada’s CTV, Australia’s Channel 9, and Arab news channel Al-Jazeera. The 62 broadcaster members of the European Broadcast Union -– which include ARD in Germany, France 2 and RAI in Italy –- will be getting their clean feed directly from the BBC. Sam Dubberly, who is in charge of forwarding BBC coverage, tells me, ”the closer we get to the wedding, the more requests we’ve been getting from members.” But NHK, the Japanese state broadcaster, won’t only out of respect for its still-grieving population in the wake of the earthquake/tsunami disaster.
Talk about a high-tech event: one estimate has 8,000 TV and radio reporters and support staff traveling from around the world into London to cover the nuptials, which start at 3 AM PT. Around 140 outside broadcast trucks with satellite uplinks will be parked in nearby Green Park, with every major world broadcaster lining up cameras along the procession route. The BBC will be using 21 cameras inside the scene of the wedding itself, Westminster Abbey, some of them wireless and remote-controlled. But Prince Charles’ office stopped Rupert Murdoch from shooting the wedding in 3D, saying there just wasn’t enough room for his extra equipment in the Abbey.
Here’s who’s trying to cash in on Friday’s wedding day:
The latest installment opened here at midnight on Friday, and played on Saturday and Sunday for distributor E1 Entertainment. The third Twilight movie grossed £6,287,559 over the weekend. The gothic love story opens properly on July 9 as the picture rolls out in major territories in a World Cup-caused delay. Exhibitors here are feeling very upbeat about its prospects. Vue, the multiplex chain, has sold over £1 million worth of advance tickets alone.
The Isle of Man-based equity investor has announced its first TV drama, a six-part thriller for the BBC. Until now CinemaNX has invested in features, covering up to 100% of the budget. Company Pictures (Skins) is making The Shadow Line, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor (Children of Men) and Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who). Stephen Rea and Anthony Sher also feature. The writer/director is Hugo Blick (Marion and Geoff), who also produces. Company is making the conspiracy thriller with Blick’s regular producer Baby Cow. The Shadow Line will screen in 2011.
CinemaNX is always the lead investor in projects, which must shoot a minimum of 50% of their schedule in this small island off Liverpool. Ecosse Films is currently making romantic comedy The Decoy Bride on the Isle of Man, starring David Tennant, another ex-Doctor Who.
It’s also been releasing its own features through a tie-up with UK cinema chain Vue. Two features have been self-released this way, Me and Orson Welles and The Disappearance of Alice Creed. Next up for distribution are Chico and Rita and Albatross. It is also editing 3D motorcycling documentary TT3D about the famous Isle of Man TT race.
Other UK financiers tell me they cannot understand how CinemaNX keeps funding films when features like Me and Orson Welles and The Disappearance of Alice Creed do so poorly at the UK box office. However, I’m told that Orson Welles has washed its face, while The Disappearance of Alice Creed has been a …