Oslo Kino - Norway’s largest municipal cinema circuit - to be privatised
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
19/06/2012 - Oslo Kino, aka Oslo Municipal Cinemas – Norway’s largest cinema circuit – is up for sale. After operating theatres in the capital for 87 years, the Oslo City Council has decided to find a private owner for the 32 screens at eight venues, which contribute an annual €2-2.5 million to the public coffers.
The right-wing majority for privatisation in the council was strongly criticized by, among others, the Labour Party’s Victoria Maria Evensen. ”The film repertoire in Oslo is better than in Copenhagen and Stockholm - the sale is a loss to the inhabitants, there will hardly be a happy ending to this,” she said.
In Norway’s unique system of exhibition, 71% of the theatres are owned and operated by the municipalities as a public service, not much different from the libraries. The demand for profits is generally second to the obligation of presenting a quality programme, including most local productions.
The municipal cinemas are organised in Film & Kino, handling support for import and distribution, but no longer prints, since it has recently orchestrated a national digitisation of the theatres. The only major private entrepreneur in the market is SF Kino, which runs cinemas in eight Norwegian cities.
Controlled by Sweden’s SF Bio – the world’s oldest theatre company, as Swedish major, Svensk Filmindustri AB, owned by the Bonnier Media Concern – SF Kino CEO Ivar Halstvedt has declared his interest in acquiring Oslo Kino. Last year, the cinema circuit registered 2.2 million admissions.