ACCRINGTON'S Premiere Cinema has been sold to multi-national giant Vue in an £850,000 deal.
The company, formerly Warner Village Cinemas, has finalised a deal and exchanged contracts with previous owners Globe Enterprises.
It now plans to carry out refurbishment work at the four-screen Viaduct complex, installing Dolby Digital surround sound, a "ticket-at-any-till" service, a pick-and-mix stall and extra seating in the foyer.
Council leader Peter Britcliffe said the deal would secure the long-term future of cinema in Hyndburn and bring much-needed investment into the borough.
He said: "It is wonderful news. We have a top-class company moving in, which intends to invest in and improve the quality of the cinema."
"I would like to thank our partners in this venture, Globe Enterprises, for the work that has been done. It was only a few months ago that the cinema was on the verge of closing so the turnaround we have achieved is absolutely fantastic."
Tim Richards, Chief Executive Officer of Vue, said the new-look cinema would also boast an Internet booking service and a telephone film information line.
He said: "The Accrington cinema is a welcome addition to our portfolio of multiplex cinemas. It is only two years old and has great potential."
"As with all Vue sites, we will look to work as closely as possible with the residents, businesses and council to make sure the cinema plays a central role in the local community."
Globe Enterprises, in which Hyndburn Council has a one-third share, took over the running of the cinema last September after the original operators, London-based GSX, went into voluntary liquidation.
Mr Nigel Rix, director of Hyndburn FIRST, said Vue was one of four national cinema operators bidding to take over the 125-year lease.
He said: "We're delighted to have reached a deal. The sale of the cinema to Vue represents not only the best transaction financially, but also the best overall outcome. It is a top-quality leading cinema operator both nationally and internationally."
Vue owns 42 cinemas across the UK and is currently developing a new multiplex in Blackburn, set to open by the end of 2005.