The iconic Empire Theatre in Leicester Square has just been sold to Cineworld

Oliver Gill
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Empire Theatre
The Empire Theatre was launched in 1884 as a variety and ballet theatre (Source: Getty)

The historic Empire Theatre in Leicester Square is set to be rebranded after the cinema was today sold to Cineworld.

The deal sees Cineworld - the second largest cinema operator in Europe - also take on four other venues outside of London from Empire Cinemas.

The Chiswick-based operator paid £94m to Empire through a combination of cash and shares as well as handing over the keys to Empire of the Carlton theatre on Haymarket.

Opened in 1884, the Empire has changed ownership several times. Film giant Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer ran it from the 1920’s and more recently it was owned by United Cinema International (UCI). It was then sold to Empire Cinemas in 2005 after the UCI merger with Odeon was only passed by UK competition authorities under such conditions.

In announcing the deal to the market, both parties placed trust at the centre of the transaction.

"I'm pleased to have found the ideal partner in Cineworld to buy these sites. I trust the company's ownership will enable it to maximise the value of these premium assets as part of its continued growth," said Irish entrepreneur and chairman of Empire Cinemas Thomas Anderson.

Meanwhile Cineworld chief executive Mooky Greidinger said : “I'm delighted that the Anderson family, well-known cinema industry veterans, have entrusted these sites to us. We welcome them as shareholders in Cineworld and look forward to delivering increased returns to all of our investors from integrating these cinemas into our group."

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