By | December 31, 2019

Curzon Cinemas, the United Kingdom’s preeminent specialized theater operator has been purchased by Cohen Media Group, an Academy Award-winning independent theatrical distribution and production company. The deal includes the purchase of Curzon’s Artificial Eye distribution arm as well as the Curzon Home Cinema streaming operations. The announcement was made today by Cohen Media Group Chairman and Owner Charles S. Cohen and Philip Knatchbull, CEO of Curzon.

Curzon Cinemas pioneered specialized exhibition in the United Kingdom and has been the country’s most revered and respected name in arthouse and specialty films for 85 years. Curzon currently operates 20 theaters and 46 screens in and around London.

For over four decades, Curzon’s Artificial Eye, Curzon’s sister company, has released many films from the world’s finest directors. Louisa Dent, Managing Director, oversees the distribution company. Curzon’s Artificial Eye’s hundreds of releases have amassed countless awards, including the Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar winners in seven of the last eight years: A Separation, Amour, The Great Beauty, Ida, Son of Saul, The Salesman and A Fantastic Woman. In 2017, Curzon was honored with a special BAFTA award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema.

The Curzon acquisition deal was negotiated by Lisbeth (Libby) Savill, a partner in the London office of Latham & Watkins and David Fogelacting on behalf of Charles S. Cohen. Jonathan Goodwin and Julian Culhane of Alvarium Investments were Curzon’s financial advisers in the transaction. Latham & Watkinsserved as legal advisers to Cohen Media Group; Fox Williams represented Curzon sellers.

Cohen Media Group has released many of the same films in the U.S. that Curzon’s Artificial Eye has in the U.K., which makes this new arrangement a natural partnership and creates a new powerhouse in international distribution, particularly in independent and specialty film.

The three divisions of Curzon, which were all acquired by Cohen include:

  • Curzon Cinemas- Curzon Cinemas was founded in 1934 by Harold Wingate, who opened the Mayfair theater in London to show little-known imported films. Throughout the interwar years and beyond, the theater became the home for foreign and independent films in Britain. The Curzon Mayfair continues today as a two-screen arthouse cinema still focused on independent and foreign films, with royal boxes and a bar. A second cinema, Curzon Bloomsbury, opened in 1972. Over the last decade, Curzon expanded greatly, currently operating 20 cinemas encompassing 46 screens in London and throughout the U.K.
  • Curzon Artificial Eye- Curzon Artificial Eye is the company’s film distribution operation, releasing some 20 new theatrical films and 30 DVD and Blu-ray titles in the U.K. each year. Founded in 1976 by German-born film enthusiast Andi Engel and his wife, Pamela Balfry, and acquired by Curzon in 2006, Artificial Eye has a library of over 400 films and it has released critically acclaimed titles by the world’s greatest directors, including Ingmar Bergman, Michael Haneke, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Lars von Trier, Werner Herzog, Abbas Kiarostami and Andrei Tarkovsky. Artificial Eye has released more Cannes Palme d’Or winners than any other U.K. distributor, including 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, The Class, The White Ribbon, Amour andBlue Is the Warmest Color.
  • Curzon Home Cinema- Curzon’s video-on-demand streaming service brings the distributor’s catalog and other titles – as well as day-and-date availability for brand-new theatrical releases – to viewers in the U.K. and Ireland. Curzon Home Cinema is available to customers through TV, mobile apps and over-the-top platforms.
  • Charles S. Cohen said, “Among exhibitors and distributors of great films, there are few names in the international marketplace as important as Curzon and Curzon’s Artificial Eye. 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’s CEO Philip Knatchbull said, “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. 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”.

    As Curzon starts this new chapter in its life Roger Wingate will be stepping down as Chairman ending his family’s association with the company stretching back nearly 80 years, “Curzon has been present throughout my entire life. I will miss it but am confident that its future is in good hands.” The position of Chairman will now be assumed by Charles S. Cohen.

    In December of 2018, Cohen Media Group acquired Landmark Theaters, the largest specialized theater chain in the United States, dedicated to independent cinema with 51 theaters and 251 screens in 27 markets. Landmark is a recognized leader in the industry for providing its customers consistently diverse and entertaining film products in a sophisticated adult-oriented atmosphere.

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