Vue Cinemas

Vue International (otherwise known as Vue Cinemas, and stylised as vue), formerly SBC International Cinemas, is a British multinational cinema company operating in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Taiwan.

Vue International
Vue Cinemas
Founded1999; 21 years ago (1999) (as Spean Bridge Cinemas)
13 May 2003; 17 years ago (2003-05-13) (as Vue)
FounderTimothy Richards (CEO)
Headquarters10 Chiswick Park
566 Chiswick High Road, ,
Number of locations
228 sites and 1,989 screens
Area served

The company was founded in May 2003 by the acquisition of Warner Village Cinemas by SBC and the subsequent rebranding of the business as Vue. As of 2018, the company has 228 cinemas and 1,989 screens internationally, including in the United Kingdom 271 3D screens, 9 Extreme Screens, 6 Scene Screens and Bars, and 3 IMAX screens.[1]

The parent company Vue International expanded through a number of acquisitions, including the Ster Century chain, Apollo Cinemas and Multikino. In June 2006, Vue's executive team completed a management buy out with the backing of Bank of Scotland Corporate,[2] taking a 51% stake in the business and buying the four remaining Warner Village sites it had been operating under contract from Village Roadshow.

The company was bought by the private equity firm Doughty Hanson & Co in November 2010.[3] In June 2013, Doughty Hanson & Co announced the sale of the company to the Canadian firms Alberta Investment Management Corporation and OMERS for £935 million.[4]

The company's original slogan was entitled Enjoy the Vue, was used from its opening in May 2003 until February 2010, when the company adopted 'the future of cinema' as its slogan to mark the opening of their Westfield cinema. Thereafter, in October 2015, the company decided to have a makeover, and – with a new rebranding – renamed the slogan as Big Screen Entertainment, respectively. The slogan remained the same until the launch of the company's Get Lost campaign in January 2020.

On 17 March 2020, Vue and other cinema companies like Cineworld and Odeon Cinemas in the UK temporarily closed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, stating that they'll "remain closed until further notice".[5][6] As of 1 July 2020, the company's cinemas across Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands are now reopened, whereas the UK cinemas will open on 31 July 2020.


Vue at Cardigan Fields in Leeds

The company was founded in 1999 by Stewart Blair, a former executive of United Artists Theatres and Tim Richards, a former executive of Warner Bros. International Theatres. The company was original named Spean Bridge Cinemas after a holiday to the Scottish Highland village of the same name by Stewart Blair.[7]

The first cinema to open was under The Circuit Cinema brand in Livingston, Scotland, on 5 October 2000.[8][8] The company was later renamed as SBC International Cinemas and opened cinemas in Faro, Portugal (closed in 2014) and Taipei, Taiwan (still operating as SBC)[9]

In May 2003, SBC bought Warner Village Cinemas from its owners, Village Roadshow and Warner Bros., for £250 million. At the time, SBC owned four cinemas, and Warner Village Cinemas owned 36.[10] In April 2005, the chain acquired the Ster Century chain from Aurora Entertainment; this included the highest grossing cinema in the United Kingdom or Ireland at Liffey Valley Shopping Centre in Dublin, Ireland.[11]

On 20 June 2006, Vue's executive team completed a management buy out of the company with the backing of Bank of Scotland Corporate; the management team retaining a 51% stake.[2] Also, as part of the buy out, Vue took full ownership of the four Village sites it had been operating under contract from Village Roadshow. The private equity firm Doughty Hanson & Co acquired Vue in November 2010.[3]

On 13 September 2011, Vue opened their biggest cinema in the United Kingdom at the new Westfield Stratford City. They had previously opened at Westfield London in 2010. Vue bought the company Apollo in May 2012, retaining 14 new sites across the United Kingdom, making it the third largest cinema company in the United Kingdom, behind Odeon and Cineworld.[12]

By 2013, it was reported that Vue had 143 cinemas.[13] In May 2013, Vue Entertainment acquired Multikino, the Polish cinema operator owning thirty cinemas with almost 250 screens in Poland and Baltic countries.[14]

In June 2013, Doughty Hanson & Co announced it had sold Vue to the Canadian pension funds Alberta Investment Management Corporation and OMERS for £935 million.[4] In November 2014, Vue International acquired 'The Space Cinema'. In August 2015, Vue International (Vue) acquired JT Bioscopen ("JT") the second largest cinema chain in the Netherlands, bringing Vue's number of sites to over 200.[15]

In June 2018, Vue acquired the Irish operator Showtime Cinemas, adding a further two cinemas to their estate in the United Kingdom and Ireland, now totalling 89 cinemas.[16]


Vue International has nearly 230 sites and almost 2000 screens globally. Below is a list of the countries and number of sites the company serves:

Country No. of cinemas No. of screens Company Closed Reopened
UK and Ireland 91 870 Vue UK and Ireland 17-03-2020 31-07-2020 (England)
Mid-August 2020 (Wales/Scotland)
The Netherlands 20 118 Vue Nederland 01-06-2020
Germany 31 34 331 363 Cinemaxx
Denmark 3 32
Italy 36 362 The Space Cinema Late 2020
Poland 44 46 316 331 Multikino
The Baltics 2 15

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemicEdit

In Spring 2020, a deadly virus called COVID-19 hit the UK and the world, forcing all cinemas to close according to the British Government and NHS Foundation.

Mid-March: ClosureEdit

On 17 March 2020, Vue and all other movie cinema chains in the UK temporarily closed their cinemas due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.[17] The London HQ in Chiswick was also shutdown due to the lockdown, but its staff including CEO Timothy Richards still were able to continue working via virtual meetings using Zoom.

April to August: Furlough periodEdit

On 14 April, the company's employees were told by Steve Knibbs, COO of Vue International, that they would be on furlough from 16 April to 30 June, with a review held every three weeks. On 1 July, the furlough period was extended until 31 August.

May to July: Reopening and Online NewsletterEdit

May: Plans for reopeningEdit

On 5 May, CEO and founder of Vue, Tim Richards, stated in a discussion with the BBC: "If all goes to plan, the chain could be back in business for the launch of director Christopher Nolan's action movie Tenet on 17 July." Also on 6 May, a weekly newsletter entitled Your Vue was sent to employees who work for their localised site. On 13 May, the cinema chain set out plans for reopening its cinemas across the UK and Ireland, whilst sticking to the current social distancing measures.[18]

June: European countries reopen and UK plans madeEdit

As of 1 June 2020, 44 cinemas across Europe are now reopened, whereas other markets expectant to reopen from 31 July 2020 [19] as part of the third step in a "roadmap" plan made by the UK Government. On 3 June, Vue revealed that the UK and Ireland reopening dates will be differed gradually; the England sites will be reopened throughout July and August, whereas the Welsh, Scottish and Irish cinemas will reopen sometime between August and September. Customer assistant workers will be updated by their General/Area manager from 17 June. On 17 June, Tim Richards gave an update to employees saying that 44 of the 228 global sites are re-operating again, with newly-placed safety measures including: social distancing, regular use of hand sanitizer, and virtual online booking and contactless payment.

July: First cinemas in UK reopenEdit

On 23 June, it was revealed that the first 20 cinemas in England, including the North West, The Midlands and London-based areas, would reopen from Friday, July 10.[20] Other sites within the UK would be likely to reopen over the following weeks. On 1 July, there were discussions as to delay the reopening date in the UK until the end of July, due to release dates for Disney's live-action adaptation of Mulan and Christopher Nolan's thriller Tenet being delayed until August 2020. Subsequently, Vue announced that same day that their cinema openings in the UK would be delayed by three weeks to 31 July 2020.[21]

Cinemas reopening in 2020Edit
Phase Country No. of cinemas Date of Reopening Locations (A-Z)
1 England 20 31 July 2020; 26 days' time (31 July 2020)


Month Date Areas affected Details Ref.
17 Europe All Vue cinemas close due to Covid-19 pandemic [17]
16 Furlough for employees begins
5 CEO Tim Richards reveals possible reopening of all cinemas in Summer 2020, with new social distancing measures in place [22]
6 New weekly newsletter entitled Your Vue is sent via email to employees [23]
13 CEO of Vue, Tim Richards reveals confirmed reopening dates for cinemas in parts of Europe next week; Second newsletter is sent to company workers; Vue celebrates its 17th anniversary
1 Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands Reopening for European countries, with new safety procedures in place; Third newsletter is sent to company workers
3 United Kingdom Fourth newsletter is sent to UK company workers; New measures announced pre-reopening, including:
17 Latest update from CEO Tim Richards; Workers updated by their managers on returning to work
19 UK, Ireland, Denmark, Italy Vue International announces that Toby Bradon is to be appointed the new General Manager of the Vue UK, Ireland and Denmark division; whereas Francesco Grandinetti will re-launch the Italian business of The Space Cinema (TSC). Both changes to their roles will come into effect from 1 July 2020.
23 Fifth newsletter sent to employees with latest developments on reopening [24]
1 United Kingdom Furlough for employees extended until 31 August; Initial Re-Opening date delayed by three weeks
31 England Phase 1 reopening of sites in England
TBA Wales, Scotland Phase 2 reopening of Welsh and Scottish cinemas
31 United Kingdom Extended furlough period ends (expected)


Vue's multiplexes vary from 4 to 30 screens. Each cinema is run by a team consisting of one general manager assisted by between two and five other members of the management team. The general manager has general control of the running of the cinema at site level, while assisted by the other members of the management team.

Team Leaders act as duty managers and are responsible for the operational running of a cinema on a shift basis. Customer Assistants serve guests throughout the cinema and report to the management team.

All cinemas have a dedicated projection team, responsible for the running of the "box" and the maintenance of the projection and sound equipment. The technical manager has overall responsibility, supported by a Senior Projectionist. They are accompanied by a team of two to four full or part-time projection staff, some of which can also share duties with the standard operation of the cinema.

However, all Vue sites are now fully digital, and therefore ran by the management team, or Technical Manager.

Vue in Swansea

Vue completed the rollout of the Vista Entertainment Solutions integrated Point of Sale software to every site in 2006.[25] Prior to this the majority of Vue cinemas ran the WaBITS ticketing system, developed in house in London by Warner Bros. International Cinemas.

This was an internal system used in all former Warner Village cinemas until 2007, when the division responsible for development was closed owing to the sale of the remaining joint venture cinema chains. WaBITS continues to be used in Japan by Warner Mycal Cinemas who now own the rights to the system.

The new system enables customers to buy tickets at any retail point in the cinema as well as online through the company website. Vue were the first major cinema operator in the United Kingdom to implement this "single point of sale" concept.

The implementation of this system in all of the locations means that none of the Vue cinemas now have dedicated box offices, All transactions are now carried out at automated ticketing machines and retail stands. In May 2004, Vue purchased the Premiere Cinema in Accrington for £850,000.[26]

It then carried out refurbishment work at the four screen complex.[27] By April 2005, the cinema was making profits for the first time.[28]

In October 2015, Vue cinemas opened in Farnborough [29] and planning permission has been approved for an eight screen venue on Elizabeth Street and Westcott Way in Corby.[30] In the end of 2015, Vue Cheshire Oaks & Leeds were upgraded to be the first two cinemas to have IMAX screens.

Vue built the United Kingdom's first eSports arena in cooperation with Gfinity, costing £350,000.[31] The Fulham Broadway cinema was converted into a six hundred seat 'Gfinity Arena,' to host e gaming events [32] On 14 April 2017, it was announced that Vue had acquired the twenty screen Odeon Printworks complex in Manchester. This would add an additional IMAX screen to the company's estate. The cinema opened under the Vue brand on 24 May 2017.[33]


  1. ^ "About Vue | The Ultimate Cinema Experience | Vue Cinemas".
  2. ^ a b "Clarity Partners :: Private Equity :: communications, media and business services".
  3. ^ a b "Doughty Hanson buys Vue cinema chain". Reuters. 8 November 2010. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Vue Cinemas sold in £935m deal". BBC News. 10 June 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "SBC Cinemas mooted to reel in Cine-UK".
  8. ^ a b "Vue Livingston in Livingston, GB - Cinema Treasures".
  9. ^ Entrepreneurial Vue: Tim Richards reflects on early days and moving forward Film Journal International. 21 June 2013.
  10. ^ Richard Wray (14 May 2003). "Deal marks the end for Warner Village". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  11. ^ Murray, Adam (April 2005). "Vue Entertainment Purchases Ster Century UK & Ireland" (Press release). BV Investment Partners. Archived from the original on 19 May 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  12. ^ "Vue acquires rival Apollo for £20m". Financial Times. 10 May 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  13. ^ "Who Owns Britains Cinema Chains". DenofGeek.
  14. ^ "UK's Vue Entertainment buys Polish cinema chain Multikino - Yahoo! Finance UK". Archived from the original on 16 June 2013.
  15. ^ "Vue International Acquires Second Largest Chain in the Netherlands". Corporate Vue.
  16. ^ "Showtime: Chain to acquire seven screen cinema in Limerick".
  17. ^ a b Cite error: The named reference "bbcreports" was defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  18. ^ "Vue sets out reopening plan with physical distancing". BBC News. 13 May 2020. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  19. ^ "Vue Cinemas hoping for mid-July reopening". BBC News. 5 May 2020. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  20. ^ Ravindran, Manori (23 June 2020). "Vue Cinemas to Begin Reopening U.K. Venues From July 10". Variety Magazine. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  21. ^ Grater, Tom (1 July 2020). "Vue Becomes Latest Cinema Chain To Delay UK Re-Opening". Deadline Magazine. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  22. ^ [1]
  23. ^ [2]
  24. ^ Ravindran, Manori (23 June 2020). "Vue Cinemas to Begin Reopening U.K. Venues From July 10". Variety Magazine. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  25. ^ "Vista Case Study: Vue Entertainment". Archived from the original on 23 January 2009. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  26. ^ "Premiere Cinema sold for £850,000". 27 May 2004. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  27. ^ "Cinema sale gives huge cash boost". 13 May 2004. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  28. ^ "It's a box office hit". 21 April 2005. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  29. ^ "Long awaited Vue cinema finally opens in Farnborough". GetHampshire. Archived from the original on 4 February 2016. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
  30. ^ "Vue-Cinema Gets Green Light in Corby". Northants Telegraph.
  31. ^ "Can Professional Video Gaming Take UK We Visit Opening Night First Esports Arena Find Out". CityAM.
  32. ^ "Vue Gfinity Esports". Engadget.
  33. ^ Bainbridge, Pete (12 May 2017). "Vue announce opening date for Printworks cinema". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 9 April 2018.

External linksEdit