A leading cinema chain has ditched a sponsorship deal with the Grangemouth petrochemical giant, Ineos, following pressure from filmmakers concerned about climate pollution.
Picturehouse, which runs 26 cinemas across the UK, announced a partnership with Ineos in November 2022. Ineos was giving a “helping hand” for a film magazine and providing hand sanitiser in cinemas, it said.
But The Ferret has learnt the deal has now been cancelled after environmental film producers featured by Picturehouse protested against taking money from the fossil fuel industry.
Green campaigners have welcomed the move, arguing that fossil fuel companies should have “no place” in sponsoring the arts. They called on sporting bodies to follow suit, and drop partnerships with climate polluters.
Picturehouse confirmed that the deal with Ineos had ended, but declined to explain why or give details. Ineos didn’t comment.
In its announcement on 1 November, Picturehouse introduced its “new supporter” Ineos as “hand care experts”. It was “thrilled” to bring the company’s “masterminds” on board to support a quarterly film magazine.
“They’ll be lending us a helping hand in bringing the magazine to you, along with filling our cinemas with their antibacterial hand wash and sanitiser,” Picturehouse said.
“Everything at Ineos is rooted in years of scientific experience, so they know what they’re doing when it comes to hygiene.”
There was no mention of the company’s major interests in oil, gas, petrochemicals and plastics. In 2021 the company’s Grangemouth plants emitted 2.7m tonnes of carbon dioxide, more than a quarter of the emissions reported by all industrial sites in Scotland.
The deal with Ineos was reportedly meant to last one year. But it was ended within six months – and its announcement removed from the Picturehouse website – following representations from those involved in two recent documentaries on the oil industry and environmental protests.
Both films, The Oil Machine and Finite: The Climate of Change, have been promoted by Picturehouse “Green Screen” for events around the UK. The aim was “to help embed sustainability into our communities”, Picturehouse said.
Ineos trying to ‘buy legitimacy’
The executive producer of The Oil Machine, James Marriott, was “delighted” that the deal had been cancelled. “A corporation such as Ineos should have no place in the provision of the arts in the UK,” he said.
“The long campaigns against Shell, BP and others have revealed that oil and gas companies must cease using culture and science institutions as billboards to promote their brands. The fossil fuel companies need to go the way of the tobacco companies.”
Marriott was pleased that filmmakers helped Picturehouse think again. “We salute the courage of the cinema team in taking this bold step,” he added.
Culture Unstained, which campaigns to end fossil fuel sponsorship of the arts, also welcomed Picturehouse’s decision. The deal had been “quietly wrapped up just a few months into a planned one-year term thanks to public pressure from Picturehouse audiences”, it said.
The group’s spokesperson, Juliette Daigre, argued that sport should follow cultural organisations in rejecting fossil fuel sponsorship. “Ineos is making a concerted effort to buy itself legitimacy through major sponsorship deals across cycling, football, rugby, running and sailing,” she told The Ferret.
“Our cultural and sporting institutions shouldn’t be helping companies like Ineos to launder their reputation and deflect attention from their climate-wrecking business. It’s time to end the greenwash.”
Ineos sponsors a Formula One racing team, a Tour de France cycling team, a sailing team and New Zealand’s rugby All Blacks. It also owns OGC Nice football club in France and its billionaire boss, Jim Ratcliffe, has been bidding to buy Manchester United.
Clare Binns, the managing director of Picturehouse Cinemas, said: “The partnership with Ineos has now ended.” But she didn’t say why, or give any further details.
“From Edinburgh down to Exeter, we play our own small part in the safekeeping of our planet.”
Ineos did not respond to requests to comment.
Cover image thanks to iStock/piotr_ku.