In a further shake-up to the UK distribution market,Artificial Eye Film Company, for 30 years the UK's leading distributor of arthouse and foreign language films, has been acquired byAct Entertainment Group, owner of Curzon Cinemas, andKnatchbull Communications Group.

Terms of the acquisition were not released.

The deal comes just as Artificial Eye hasbeen enjoying one of the most substantial successes in its history having mademore than $3.7m through the UK theatrical releases ofJacques Audiard's TheBeat My Heart Skipped and Michael Haneke's Hidden.

Set up in the mid-1970s by Pam and Andi Engel, Artificial Eye owns a library of more than 200films as well as two first-run cinemas in central London, The Chelsea Cinema andThe Renoir.

It has long been the doyen of UK arthouse distributors, handling work from such renownedfilmmakers as Robert Bresson, Claude Chabrol, The Dardenne brothers,Eric Rohmer, Krzysztof Kiewslowski, Andrei Tarkovsky and Alexander Sokurov.

Robert Beeson will stay on as managingdirector of Artificial Eye's distribution company and Pam Engel will remain asa consultant.

Artificial Eye's cinemas together with the Curzon Mayfair and Curzon Sohoand the Richmond Filmhouse will be absorbed into anew subsidiary, giving the group nine screens on five London sites.

"Andi and PamelaEngel have created a unique, quality brand," said Roger Wingate, who owns Act."Philip Knatchbull and I feel honoured to carry thetorch from now on. Artificial Eye is now the leading UK label for foreign films.With their distribution expertise and our plans to diversify and grow the groupthrough new digital platforms we will make this an internationally recognisedbrand leader."

This is the third takeover of an independent UK distributor in recentmonths, following on from Lionsgate's acquisition of Redbus and StudioCanal's takeoverof Optimum.