HMV and Curzon Artificial Eye (CAE) are to partner in a highly unusual venture - setting up new cinemas in selected HMV stores.

HMV, is the UK’s leading retailer of DVD, and Curzon Artificial Eye (CAE), is operator of the Curzon Cinema chain and a leading specialist film distributor.

“Because of digital technology, we don’t need a box-office and we don’t need a projection room,” Philip Knatchbull, Chief Executive of Curzon Artificial Eye, explained. “We want to broaden out the reach we have to a wider base of customers. Obviously, tapping into that whole HMV customer base where they sell 50 million odd DVDs a year is an opportunity for us.”

The idea behind the new alliance is to bring together two complementary brands, both eager to interact more fully with loyal customer bases that share the same passion for film.

The concept will be piloted at the HMV store in Wimbledon, London, and is expected to open in Autumn 2009. The hmvcurzon will potentially operate up to three screens across a combined total of more than 200 seats, and will mainly utilise the non-trading space on the store’s second floor.  The cinema will be accessible via the HMV store during the day, but will have its own dedicated entrance outside of normal trading hours.

Films will be screening all day, from opening hour till after the store has closed, and there is likely to be a sliding price scale. (Morning screenings will be less expensive than those in peak evening hours.) The type of films showing will initially be similar exhibited at Curzon’s five cinema sites. In the long run, though, Knatchbull hopes to broaden the choice “so that we’re including a larger constituency of potential customers than just traditional Curzon customers.”

More hmvcurzon locations may follow, depending on the success of the Wimbledon trial and further site analysis.

Alongside the regular programming of films and special events featuring director/cast Q&As, for which Curzon is known, hmvcurzon may also screen films on behalf of local schools, parents with young children, or groups keen to enjoy foreign language films.  In addition, live music events, awards ceremonies, major sporting events and online gaming tournaments will all be considered.

“Millions of film fans visit HMV’s high street stores each year, making them an ideal destination for this new type of cinema experience,” Simon Fox, HMV Group Chief Executive, commented. “This exciting partnership with Curzon Artificial Eye complements our recent joint venture for live music, and further demonstrates our commitment to getting our customers even closer to the film and entertainment content they love.”

“HMV is the ideal partner to trial this totally new concept in cinema. hmvcurzon will expand the cinema experience beyond just film programming by interacting and reacting to our customers’ interests and desires, and providing them with a wide range of film and entertainment in an intimate and high quality environment,” Knatchbull said.