Exclusive: fate of Empire Cinemas to be clearer this week

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Film Stories understands that an announcement about Empire Cinemas is but days away. A bit more info here.

I’ve heard this now from a couple of sources, and from doing a bit of digging, I’m confident enough to put this out: the fate of the Empire Cinemas chain is set to become a whole lot clearer this week, after months of waiting.

The chain went into administration back in July, with the immediate closure of venues in Bishops Stortford, Catterick Garrison, Sunderland, Swindon, Walthamstow and Wigan.

Since then, its venues at Birmingham Great Park, Clydebank, High Wycombe, Ipswich and Sutton have kept trading.

Efforts were made to find a buyer for the chain, but as I understand it, the sell off of the assorted cinemas has been ongoing. Individual sites were put up for sale in August when an overall purchaser wasn’t found, so it’s not entirely clear how many are affected by what’s about to happen.

Still: I now also understand that as early as Monday (today), an announcement is expected for at least one of the remaining sites, and likely more of them. A purchaser has been found, which will continue to run the venue as a cinema. The identity of the buyer is expected early next week. It’s a reprieve, certainly, given that it wasn’t certain the remaining multiplex sites would continue operating as such. It looks like there are slivers of good news here, and hopefully lots of staff keeping their jobs.

Separately, over the weekend, it was announced that the Vue chain had acquired the Swindon building that was previously owned by Empire Cinemas.

Its plan is to open a 12-screen Vue multiplex in its place.

I’ve no knowledge if Vue is the company behind further purchases, but given that it’s the multiplex chain in the UK with the soundest finances at the moment, it does make it the more likely candidate. However, this particular paragraph, to be clear, is my speculation.

Stocks of products at existing Empire sites have been run down over the past few weeks in anticipation of the announcement. It looks like the uncertainty is about to clear though, and fingers crossed, the news is good.

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