Sandrew Metronome Sweden has announced that it will close down its Swedish theatrical distribution. The company’s last release will be Mikael Håfström’s Anthony Hopkins starrer The Rite (Ritualen) [pictured].

”Sandrew Metronome owners do not think that theatrical distribution is part of their core business, so most of our staff will finish by the end of this month,” SMS managing director Maria Mörner told the Swedish Film Institute’s Filmnyhetarna. She will herself leave mid-April.

”We even had a good 2010 result,” she added. Last year Sandrew Metronome Sweden – then releasing Warner titles – was a market leader, with Nordisk Film, controlling 16% of admissions, due to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I and Inception.

Last March, Schibsted, Norway’s largest media concern and owner of the pan-Scandinavian distributor, declared  it would not continue as a long term owner of Sandrew Metronome which was up for sale, since ”it is not part of the core activities of the group.”

In November, ”to adapt to dramatically changed conditions in the film distribution market,” it cancelled its contract with Warner Bros Pictures International for Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland. It also notified it was ceasing all theatrical distribution in Denmark.

In December Warner Bros signed a strategic alliance with Sweden’s Svensk Filmindustri for Denmark, Norway and Finland, and with Fox International for Sweden. Denmark’s Nordisk Film purchased Sandrew Metronome’s Danish 130-title back catalogue.

Founded by Anders Sandrew in the 1920s, Sweden’s Sandrews was a leading company in production, distribution and exhibition, when it merged with Denmark’s Metronome in 1996. Sandrew Metronome was set up as a joint venture with Schibsted in 1998.

In 2005 it sold Sandrew’s Swedish cinema chain to Triangel Film (which later went bankrupt), and in 2006 its Danish screens were taken over by Nordisk Film. In 2007 it dismantled its Swedish production department, to fully close in-house film-making.