Speaking at BSAC conference, CEO talks about future growth plans for physical venues and on demand platforms.

Curzon Artificial Eye CEO Philip Knatchbull has outlined his vision for the Curzon brand.

Speaking today on a panel on “Reinventing The Theatrical Experience And Growing The Brand,” at the British Screen Advisory Council Film Conference 2012, Knatchbull revealed that the Artificial Eye name was likely to be phased out. This could spell the end of the celebrated label that has distributed European and world cinema in the UK since being founded by the late Andi Engel in 1976.

“For sure, there should be one brand in our company and it should be the consumer-facing brand…I think Artificial Eye really is an industry facing brand,” Knatchbull said

Knatchbull’s intention is to drop the word “cinema” and the word “on demand” and to establish Curzon as “a niche premium brand that everyone trusts and understands.”

The aim now, Knatchbull said, was to have “probably 20 to 25 physical Curzon venues and 15 to 20 Curzon “On Demand” platforms, which is the home cinema element…I see both as synonymous. There is no difference to me between what a comfortable home cinema experience is through Curzon On Demand or a shared emotional experience in a public cinema.”

He gave further details of the Curzon “franchise” system, through which the company is offering venues the chance to set up as Curzon cinemas. The plan is to provide selected art centres and theatres the chance to turn themselves into part-time film and alternative content venues. Since the scheme was launched in January, Knatchbull said that there were already three Curzon franchisees up and running and a further six should be in action by the end of the year. (Venues already in action as Curzon franchisees include The Bridport Arts Centre in West Dorset and the Watermark in Ivybridge.)

“I need to get the Curzon brand out there, into the UK marketplace, beyond really the M25, which is where Curzon is currently known,” the he said.

Knatchbull also issued a call for “windows” to disappear, noting that the company’s collaboration with Sky Movies Box Office on selected day and date releases had been more successful than anticipated. “Those numbers were double what Sky expected,” he stated.

Asked by Chair Peter Buckingham what the Curzon brand stood for, Knatchbull replied: “a point of differentiation from the multiplexes…a curation of a certain type of movie. If LoveFilm or Netflix have 40,000 or 50,000 [films] on their service, I am going to have no more than 300 and they will be curated from all the best films that we currently show in our cinemas. It will be no different. Increasingly, you will see that the films we release will be released day and date on Curzon home cinema platform and on Curzon public cinema platform.”