UK cinema exhibitor Vue Entertainment is to acquire Italian cinema chain The Space Cinema. With a total of 362 screens in 36 locations, The Space Cinema is one of the leading exhibitors in Italy. The deal is expected to be complete in November and it is the fourth acquisition in the past three years by Vue. The UK chain acquired Apollo in the UK in May 2012 (with 14 sites, 83 screens), CinemaxX in Germany in August 2012 (with 34 sites, 292 screens), and Multikino in Poland in October 2013 (with 30 sites, 246 screens). Italy is an important film market in Europe, albeit a relatively fragmented one at exhibition level. The acquisition of Space further enhances Vue’s presence in the European market, and also puts Vue in direct competition with rival UK circuit Odeon, which is also present in the Italian market.
Odeon UCI, Vue and Cineworld, all the three major UK cinema circuits, have gone international and lead the European market. With 2,194 screens in 240 sites (as at June 2014), Odeon is still the leading exhibitor in Europe by screens, followed by Vue and Cineworld/Cinema City. The latter is now part of international group Cinema City. The European exhibition market is experiencing a market consolidation, driven largely by the leading UK groups and this consolidation is likely to continue.