The boss of the oldest cinema in the UK has vowed to continue to show groundbreaking movies, despite being taken over by a multiplex.

Picturehouse, owner of the Duke of York’s, in Preston Road, Brighton, has been snapped up a in a £47.3 million deal by cinema chain Cineworld.

The move came as the arthouse cinema prepared to open two new screens at the Komedia arts venue in Gardner Street.

The opening last night featured a screening of the adaptation of The Life of Pi, directed by Ang Lee.

Film buffs expressed concerns that the quirky character of the cinema could be changed.

Mike Dalley said: “I do hope that they will not change too much, but the move into the Komedia is brilliant.”

Andrew Allen said: “Really not sure about Cineworld buying PictureHouse. I'm a member of both, but I’m worried about the long term for local Duke Of York’s.”

Malcolm Harvey said: “How terribly sad. I sat in the back row with the first girl I ever took out. They can’t be allowed to change it.”

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However, general manager John Barranechea, pictured above, dismissed concerns that the cinema will become more mainstream.

He said: “Nothing will change as far as our customers are concerned and we would not want it to.

“The Duke of Yorks in the UK’s oldest cinema and will continue to feature ground-breaking independent movies alongside blockbuster productions. There is already a Cineworld at the Marina so there is no need for us to become one.

“This does not affect our tenancy at Komedia. We have signed a long-term deal at the venue and we hope to be there as long as Komedia is there.”

He added that there would be no job losses at the Preston Circus cinema, which employs 40 people.

Picturehouse made sales of £30.3 million last year and a pretax profit of £2.5 million.

Separate operation

Cineworld, which runs 80 cinemas in the UK, including Brighton Marina, is issuing up to 6.9 million new shares to raise £16 million to fund the deal.

The multiplex giant said they will run the independent movie theatre operator as a separate entity.

Picturehouse is led by founder director Lyn Goleby, who will continue in her role as managing director of the chain.

Cineworld boss Stephen Wiener said: “We recognise that Picturehouse is valued by its customers and we look forward to supporting the business through the next phase of its development.”

Lyn Goleby said: “The opportunity to be part of a public company is great news for Picturehouse and our customers. We are known for our high quality city centre cinemas and our distinctive, wide-ranging programming.

“The unique character of Picturehouse cinemas will remain and our team will continue to bring the widest range of film to customers. This acquisition by Cineworld will accelerate the development of further Picturehouse cinemas around the country.”

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