Astoria sells cinemas to SF

Crisis-hit Astoria Cinemas is closing down movie theatres in nine small Swedish towns, while selling a further three cinemas to rival SF Bio.

The move comes after the company earlier this week stopped paying its creditors and was granted protection from bankruptcy by Stockholm district court. The company has debts of 80 million kronor, of which 7 million are owed to the Swedish Film Institute.

Astoria is to retain control of its cinemas in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. Other cinemas in the chain will be shut down, with the exception of movie theatres in Uppsala, Lund and Borlänge, which will be taken over by SF Bio.

The cinemas due to be shut down will be run by SF Bio until they are closed. The towns affected are Gävle, Helsingborg, Karlstad, Linköping, Luelå, Umeå, Västerås and Örebro.

Astoria Cinemas’ CEO Mattias Nohrborg wrote in a statement that he was satisfied with the deal and felt relieved.

“This is adapted to the situation on the Swedish cinema market. At the same time, our agreement with SF BIO helps us out of our very poor and acute financial situation.”

When Astoria Cinemas bought the former Sandrews cinema chain six months ago, Nohrborg believed that there was room on the market for two nationwide cinema chains.

“I can simply observe that I was partially wrong. This is not possible in most places outside the major cities, and it has been a painful realisation that we have to close down the loss-making part of the chain in the countryside,” he wrote.