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Cineworld and Competition

Friday 11 October 2013, 16:18

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

Last December multiplex giant Cineworld acquired the Picturehouse arthouse chain. Now it has been ruled anti-competitive in certain places and they are being forced to sell some of the cinemas. What do you think of this development?

 

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Cineworld and Picturehouse

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    Comment number 1.

    As someone who used to live in Aberdeen (born and bred), it is something of an arts wilderness. The closure of every independent record shop and the threatened closure of HMV indicated the only place to buy CDs and DVDs would be Tesco (thankfully HMV saved the outlet there). There is a Vue in the town centre and a Cineworld multiplex on the edge of town, and the Picture House was never that great an addition. I now live in Edinburgh which offers a much greater variety of independent and commercial cinema. Whatever happens to the Picturehouse in Aberdeen, sadly the best place north of the Forth to see non-multiplex movies is still your own home.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 2.

    I live in Aberdeen and it does worry me that Cineworld is having to sell The Belmont. Although currently Cineworld own three of the four cinemas in Aberdeen I don't think that what The Belmont offers the city can be compared to the other two multiplexes that they run. It offers a much more "arthouse" selection of films that you cannot find elsewhere in Aberdeen. I don't think it will be easy to find an experienced buyer willing to take on ownership and that there is a real risk it will have to close if one is not found. Our local MSP has already written to the Competition Commission calling for it to reconsider it's decision. I hope it will heed this call and re-examine it's hasty decision which could lead to the closure of a cultural gem here in Aberdeen.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 3.

    As long as the Bradford Pictureville stays open, my indy cinema-going is well and truly taken care of. However, following the recent threat of the closure of the National Media Museum (the complex housing both Pictureville & IMAX screens), I went apoplectic with rage at the thought of losing "my own picturehouse" and the access to independent cinema that goes with it. So, even though the possible loss of Picturehouses has no direct effect on me, just the thought of a slow death of indy cinema fills me with dread. A domestic set-up of 100" screen & 7.1 surround sound, watching whatever you want when you want, may sound like heaven at home, but it will never replicate the experience of looking up at over 1000 sq ft of pure 35mm/4k magic. So, unless the big movie companies are allowed to run indy cinemas themselves (even at a loss), I fear it won't be a matter of "if the indies die out" but "when the indies die out".

    Happy Xmas!!

  • rate this
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    Comment number 4.

    I am a regular Picturehouse customer in Bury St Edmunds. This comfortable, friendly cinema could hardly be more different to the brash, anonymous multiplex that is Cineworld. We are a different, usually older, audience. At the Abbeygate Picturehouse we regularly meet people we know, we use the new and highly successful cafe, we turn up for NT Live, Glyndebourne, the Met and similar screenings. We are members of the Picturehouse fraternity. We cannot understand the problem of competition in our town - those who attend Cineworld are most unlikely to come to the Picturehouse, and vice-versa. The threat to our lovely cinema is causing widespread concern here.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 5.

    I love the Cambridge Picturehouse and I go relatively often when I'm here at university. I don't really know much about competition laws etc but I don't see the Picturehouse as ever having been in much competition with the local Cineworld anyway.
    Firstly, in a city so small that the walk to Girton college is often described as quicker if you go the other way around the world, the Cineworld cinema might as well be in Aberdeen or Bury St. Edmunds. But more importantly, no one goes to the Picturehouse to see The Smurfs 2 or One Direction's movie, just as no one goes to Cineworld to Hannah Arendt or the 'final cut' of The Wicker Man, which are both on tomorrow. Cinema is not some homogeneous object of consumption.
    Besides, a supposed lack of competition won't enable price rises because to some extent cinemas are now always in competition with illegal downloads. Cinemas simply charge a premium for a greater experience; the actual product is available online for the small price of an ephemerally guilty conscience.
    So yeah, don't close it.
    Besides, driving

 

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Outspoken, opinionated and never lost for words, Mark is the UK's leading film critic.

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