Richards is also a sitting governor of the BFI. Other candidates for the position are understood to be Caroline Michel, CEO and literary agent at U.K. literary and talent agency Peters Fraser + Dunlop, and Nick Clarry, partner at private equity firm CVC advisers and chair of the board of trustees at London’s Old Vic theater.
The position has been vacant since November 2020 when Josh Berger, former managing director of Warner Bros. U.K., Ireland and Spain, stepped down. BFI governor Pat Butler has been serving as interim chair.
The appointment is decided by the U.K. Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). It will be finalized by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden and ratified by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Richards, whose Vue chain operated 91 cinemas in the U.K. and Ireland before the pandemic, is believed to have close ties to the government.
The BFI and DCMS declined to comment but Variety understands that an appointment is imminent. Final interviews were held in late November.
The BFI chair is an unpaid position and is expected to serve two days a month and whenever required for consultation with BFI CEO Ben Roberts.
The DCMS advertisement for the role describes it as “an extraordinary opportunity for an individual who is passionate about the success of the BFI and the wider British film/screen industry, and who has a track record of board leadership, to support the next chapter of British film and the continued success of the screen sectors.”
The chair will be expected to work alongside Roberts in shaping and delivering an emerging vision for the sectors’ recovery from COVID-19. “To do so, the selected board chair must have achieved leadership stature in the film industry, business, a major charitable or cultural institution, or government,” the job description states.
The assessment board for the position is chaired by DCMS director Robert Specterman-Green; Pat Butler, serving as a representative of the BFI; Vikki Heywood, board member of the National Theatre; and publisher Lord Mendoza.
News of the shortlisted candidates was first reported by Screen International.
Manori Ravindran contributed to this report.