The distinguished Culture, Media and Sport Committee launched a bipartisan inquiry, spending weeks questioning industry figures as part of an investigation to understand the current state of film and TV production in the UK. While some leaders in the industry expressed concerning conclusions about the present and future position of independent British cinema, Vue founder and CEO Tim Richards caused quite a stir last month, making an appearance at the UK Parliament’s British Film & High-End TV Inquiry. Richards shared his optimistic vision for independent British cinema that will be shaped by the performance and variety of films on his screens across the UK and Europe. 

The CEO stated that, “There’s this perception that certain cinemas play certain movies and others don’t. That may have been true 30 or 40 years ago, but not anymore. Right now, there’s practically no difference between an independent, art house cinema and a multiplex cinema operator. We are all playing the same movies.” Vue combats this common misconception by having more screens, creating more opportunities for audiences to come and enjoy the cinema, which the future of the industry relies on. The inclusion of independent films from multiplex operators, like Vue, generates 70% of the grosses for these films and solidifies their significance to the independent film ecosystem. 

Helping fill Vue seats is the rapidly evolving Artificial Intelligence (AI) software, which the company started utilizing almost nine years ago. Vue is just now speaking up about how AI can maintain and enhance the current state of film and TV production in the UK. Hiring a group of individuals from San Francisco to help build very complex models for their programs, Vue has cycled through various models over the years, eventually rolling out the software across more cinemas.

“But AI is responsible for booking all of our screens and it determines what we play at what cinema on what screen and at what time. Our business is movies, but in periods where we’ve got a little bit of extra screen time, we’ve been hosting music, theater, and sporting events. And the AI will also schedule alternative programming events around our feature films,” stated Richards. 

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While offering more variety in his cinemas is on the agenda, according to Richards, the biggest issue the current state of the film market is facing is that it is not discovering enough projects to service operators – a problem the CEO plans to solve. 

Richards has set his sights on accelerating plans to launch a distribution arm at Vue, a major step into directly distributing films in the UK and across Europe. While there are some amazing movies on this year’s horizons, Richards argues that “we don’t have as many movies as we need. So we decided to accelerate our plans for a distribution vehicle.” Vue launched into distribution with the release of the breakout Italian dramedy, There’s Still Tomorrow, by debut filmmaker Paola Cortellesi in the UK. 

Cortellesi’s film is just the first feature film that Richards and his internal team plan to launch directly, with the CEO announcing recently that Vue has joined forces with producers Andy Paterson and Annalise Davis and virtual production outfit Dimension Studios to roll out a slate of UK films. Richards further revealed, “Our plan is to take the very best of local films from our markets, the best Polish and German, Dutch, and Italian films and show them to all of our customers across our markets.”