Cohen Media Group has acquired the venerable U.K. art house theater chain Curzon Cinemas, in the first overseas exhibition venture for U.S. real estate billionaire Charles S. Cohen.
The deal, announced today by Cohen and Curzon CEO Philip Knatchbull, encompasses Curzon’s 13 locations in the U.K. and its Curzon Artificial Eye distribution division and Curzon Home Cinema streaming business. Financial details were not disclosed.
“Among exhibitors and distributors of great films, there are few names in the international marketplace as important as Curzon and Curzon’s Artificial Eye,” said Cohen, whose company last year acquired Landmark Theatres and also produces and distributes specialty films. “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.”
Curzon debuted in 1934, when Harold Wingate opened its first cinema in Mayfair, a location still in operation as a two-screen art house theater. Curzon Artificial Eye, founded in 1976 and acquired by Curzon in 2006, has a library of more than 400 films and releases roughly 20 new theatrical titles and 30 DVD and Blu-ray titles in the U.K. each year.
“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.,” said Knatchbull. “With Charles Cohen’s proven dedication and track record for quality film together with his recent acquisition of the Landmark theatre 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. I look forward to helping Charles fulfill that potential.”
Roger Wingate will retire as chairman and will end his family’s longtime association with the company, with Cohen taking over his post.
“Curzon has been present throughout my entire life,” said Wingate. “I will miss it, but am confident that its future is in good hands.”
The Curzon acquisition deal was negotiated by Lisbeth (Libby) Savill, a partner in the London office of Latham & Watkins and David Fogel acting on behalf of Cohen. Jonathan Goodwin and Julian Culhane of Alvarium Investments were Curzon’s financial advisers in the transaction. Latham & Watkins served as legal advisers to Cohen Media Group; Fox Williams represented Curzon sellers.