Swedish cinema chain Astoria Cinemas was saved from bankruptcy Friday (16 Mar), as a Stockholm court accepted a majority decision by 260 creditors to write off 75% of the company's debts, totalling $8.9 million (Euros 6.7m).

Only two voted against the accord, including the main creditor, the Swedish Film Institute, which had registered a $1.3 million (Euros 1m) claim for unpaid ticket fees, now missing from the budget for production support of new Swedish features.

Working on the reconstruction of Astoria since October 2006, when it went into receivership, Swedish lawyer Staffan Cassmer confirmed that the necessary capital to meet 25% of the company's unpaid bills is now available on a bank account.

The company's deal with leading Swedish exhibitor, SF Bio (the sister company of Swedish major, Svensk Filmindustri), which has taken over all Astoria theatres outside the key cities of Stockholm, Goteborg and Malmo, was the key to the rescue plan.

Managing director Mattias Nohrborg, also CEO of local distributor and Astoria part-owner, Triangelfilm, explained that the circuit has recorded a profit since October, and that he is currently negotiating with investors for a new cash input.

'I will be the first to regret that we cannot pay everybody what we owe them. So we are not celebrating with champagne today, probably with an energy drink, because there is much work ahead,' added Nohrborg.

Astoria was launched on May 2, 2005, after Triangelfilm, Atlantic Film and production house, S/S Fladen, had bought the Swedish screens operated by Norway's Sandrew Metronome, then comprising 23 theatres/12,500 seats at 16 venues.

After the first year of a three-year renovation plan, the company posted a $1.2 million (Euros 0.9m) deficit, allegedly due to 'distributors excluding the circuit access to programming the season's crowd-pleasers'.