Less than a week after the UK's largest exhibitor Odeon Cinemas was sold for $694m, it has emerged that Warner Bros International Theatres (WBIT) and Village Roadshow are also in discussions for the sale of their UK joint venture Warner Village Cinemas.
A WBIT spokesperson confirmed that negotiations were taking place with SBC International Cinemas, an independent UK exhibitor, but declined to give further details.
SBC International Cinemas - previously known as Spean Bridge - is an independent company with headquarters in London. The company, which has four sites in the UK, one in Portugal, and one in Taiwan, was last year linked as a potential investor in UCI Cinemas. SBC's chief executive officer Tim Richards, who was previously senior vice president, business development, at WBIT, declined comment.
The value of the Warner Village circuit, which has 36 sites and 354 screens in the UK, is unclear. The move is consistent with WBIT's strategy of developing underscreened territories and moving on once the estate is built out: it last week divested its one-third stake in its Australian multiplex joint venture for around $61m.
WBIT is currently expanding its circuit in Japan, amongst other territories, and is attempting to establish a presence in China.
The talks put the ownership of the UK cinema sector into further flux. Ster Century and Cine UK are both on the auction block, while reports point to Vivendi Universal pulling out of United Cinemas International (UCI), its international exhibition joint venture with Viacom-owned Paramount Pictures.