Building Czech plexes next on Toucan’s bill

PRAGUE — A new player has emerged on the multiplex scene in Central and Eastern Europe: Toucan Entertainment, a U.S. company based in London, has made its first move in Prague, purchasing a 49% stake in the Galaxie multiplex.

That puts it in partnership with Kino 2005, the Czech and Slovak multiplex developer behind Galaxie.

Toucan managing directors Robert Hemphill and Linda Powers were in Prague last week to discuss future projects with Kino 2005 general director Petr cq Kot.

$80 million in place

Toucan has earmarked $80 million for its first wave of multiplex developments; the management team expects the sum to take it through some dozen projects. The company plans to announce its first project at the beginning of the new year.

The new partnership could be a strong force in the multiplex market. Acknowledging the impact of the Galaxie plex on the Czech box office (it accounts for some 30% of Prague’s B.O. and 10% nationwide), Powers said, “The Galaxie has the strongest and longest record here in the region.”

“It’s a good market, and we think we have particularly good partners here to work with,” said Hemphill. “It reflects a lot of talent on the part of Kino 2005 that they know their market.”

Along with turning the Galaxie from a desolate suburban outpost to a vibrant social spot, Kot last year introduced reserved movie tickets to Prague, a move that helped give prices a boost.

The Toucan team may be new to the multiplex scene, but they’re no strangers to development in Central and Eastern Europe. Hemphill and Powers bring years of experience working on large-scale energy infrastructure projects in the region.

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