Vue boss Tim Richards named new chair of British Film Institute

He replaces interim chair Pat Butler.
He replaces interim chair Pat Butler.

Vue CEO Tim Richards has been appointed as the next chair of the British Film Institute (BFI).

The cinema boss, who founded Vue International in 1999, will will take over the role from interim chair and BFI governor Pat Butler, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport confirmed.

The public appointment was made by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, who said Richards will take up the position from February 16 and will serve a term of up to three years.

Dowden said: “The BFI showcases the great creativity and innovation of the UK’s hugely successful screen sectors, which are already bouncing back strongly.

“I know Tim will be a brilliant champion for the industry and his extensive experience will help ensure the BFI plays an important role in our cultural and economic recovery.”

Richards, who left Warner Bros Studio in Los Angeles to found Vue International, added: “I am honoured and thrilled to have been asked to chair the BFI, especially at such a crucial time for the arts and cultural sector.

“British film and television have always had a unique power to inspire people globally and I am confident that Britain’s talent and creativity will help lead the screen industries to a great future.”

Cinemas have been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with film studios delaying the release of their big-budget blockbusters.

Among those pushed back have been Bond film No Time To Die, Top Gun: Maverick and Fast & Furious 9.

While cinemas temporarily opened last year in between lockdowns, Cineworld closed 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse sites, while nearly a quarter of Vue cinemas shut three days a week.

The BFI has awarded more than £16 million in grant support to more than 200 independent cinemas from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund. More grant applications from independent cinemas are also currently being assessed.

At the start of the year, cinemas were able to apply for another £14 million in grants as part of the second round of the Culture Recovery Fund, which is in addition to the £30 million already being allocated by the BFI.

The BFI has also indicated the UK’s film and high-end TV production is showing strong signs of economic recovery, with a £1.19 billion upturn in production spend in the last three months of 2020.