Apollo Cinemas, a 14-strong independent theatre chain, looks set to sell a stake to more than double the size of the business.
Three chains – Vue, Odeon, and Cineworld – control about three-quarters of the market and Apollo is looking to become the clear number four. The accountant Deloitte is conducting a strategic review and will submit three or four proposals within six weeks.
It is thought that selling a stake is the preferred option, though the review will look at growing the business more slowly out of cash reserves. The plan will be presented to the executors of the estate of Anita Gregg – the late wife of Apollo founder and former Everton investor Paul Gregg – who are expected to hand control to her son Simon later this year.
Rob Arthur, Apollo's managing director, said: "We're looking to grow the estate to 30-35 within the next five years, particularly in city centres that need digital cinema."
The cinema market is performing well at present due to several Oscar contenders, including Colin Firth's The King's Speech.