Artificial’s sale real

By ARCHIE THOMAS LONDON

Artificial Eye, the U.K’s leading arthouse and foreign-language distrib, has been acquired by theater owner ACT and media investment fund Knatchbull.

Artificial Eye owns a library of more than 200 titles and runs two London arthouse theaters — the Chelsea Cinema and the Renoir.

Robert Wingate’s ACT owns the upmarket Curzon Mayfair and Curzon Soho theaters. Knatchbull, which is run by producer Philip Knatchbull, owns Richmond Filmhouse.

The acquisition turns the combined group into a significant force in London’s arthouse market.

“Artificial Eye is now the leading U.K. label for foreign films. With their distribution expertise and our plans to diversify and grow the group through new digital platforms we will make this an internationally recognized brand leader,” said Wingate.

Robert Beeson will be m.d. of Artificial Eye’s distribution company. Pamela Engel, who co-founded Artificial Eye 30 years ago with Andi Engel, will act as a consultant to the company.

Artificial Eye’s strong rep has been enhanced by the recent box office success of French-language pics “The Beat That My Heart Skipped” and “Hidden.”

Wingate was active in distribution and production in the 1970s and ’80s through his companies Curzon Film Distributors and Mayfair Ent., and backed several Merchant Ivory pics.

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