Sweden's second-largest cinema chain, Astoria Cinemas, has gone intoreceivership.
The chain has applied for anadministration order, but CEO Mattias Nohrborg is said to be attempting a reconstructionof the company.
Nohrborg went to court afterthe Swedish Film Institute had earlier this week asked the bailiff to cash in a$9.8 million debt from Astoria.According to the film agreement the institute is partly financed by a 10% dutylevied on cinema tickets, and Astoria had not paid this money since early spring. Competingexhibitors threatened to suspend their payments until Astoria settled its
Until now, Astoria had been second only to market leader SF Bio, butaccording to local press reports the company had been in financial difficultyfor some time.
Astoria Cinemas was launchedon May 2 last year, after distributors Triangelfilm, Atlantic Film andproduction house S/S Fladen took over Sandrew Metronome Sweden's circuit in a $13million deal.
Nohrborg immediately started to carry out "a three-year renovation plan for thetheatres, as well as for the programming". Most recently he opened a newfive-screen cinema in the Stockholmsuburb of Nacka.
Last year Astoria posted a $1.2 million deficit - down from $3.5million in 2004, when the circuit was still under Sandrew Metronome Sweden. Nohrborg claims the current crisis is due to'distributors excluding him from programming this season's crowd-pleasers'.
Astoria owns 23 theatres with 12,500 seats at 16 venues,including the key cities of Stockholm,Goteborg and Malmo.