LONDON — Steve Wiener, the chief exec and founder of the U.K.’s top movie theater chain Cineworld, is to step down.
Wiener, who has been in the film biz for 44 years, will exit in March after 18 years with Cineworld to “enjoy the fruits of his success.”
The exhib vet, who was formerly managing director of Warner Bros. Europe, set up Cineworld in 1995. It was bought by private equity group Blackstone in 2004, and floated on the stock exchange in 2007. It now has 80 sites. It drew 46 million admissions last year, with revenues of £359 million ($579 million). Rival chain Odeon has 112 sites in the U.K.
In December 2012, Cineworld acquired the U.K.’s leading arthouse exhib chain, City Screen, which trades as Picturehouse, for £47.3 million ($76.3 million). Picturehouse had 21 sites and 60 screens, although the Competition Commission recently ruled that it would have to sell three sites.
“In 1995 my wife Jenny and I wrote a business plan to start a cinema company. We expected over a five-year period to open five to seven multiplex cinemas, and sell it on to one of the big operators,” Wiener said in a statement on Wednesday. “Today Cineworld is the number one cinema chain in the U.K., and has been for more than three years.”
Cineworld has not announced Wiener’s successor.