Sweden’s Astoria Cinemas shutter

SF Bio becomes country's sole exhibitor

STOCKHOLM — Sweden’s Astoria Cinemas loop filed for bankruptcy on Monday, leaving SF Bio as the country’s sole exhib.

Astoria has been fighting for survival since October when it applied for protection from creditors at the Stockholm District Court. Then it had an $11 million debt, including $957,000 owed to the Swedish Film Institute.

It sold all its cinemas, except those in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo, to SF Bio. But that was not enough. In May, Astoria sold a major part of the remaining cinemas to SF Bio.

In June, Astoria’s founder and CEO Matthias Nohrborg ankled. Jonny Jergander took over, but was unable to save what remained — five multiplexes in Stockholm, one in Malmo and one in Gothenburg.

For SF Bio, it’s the culmination of a long-held aim. It tried to acquire the then Sandrew Metronome chain back in 2005 but was blocked by the country’s competition authorities. Art house distributors Triangel Film and Atlantic teamed up with producer S/S Fladen to buy Sandrew Metronome’s 22 Swedish cinemas and rebranded it Astoria.

“Sweden will be a poorer cinema country with only one major player,” said Swedish Film Institute CEO Cissi Elwin. “Monopoly is never good.”

SF Bio CEO Jan Bernhardsson would not say whether the loop would keep the remaining Astoria cinemas open.

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