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United Cinemas opens multi in Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO — Exhibitor United Cinemas Intl. (UCI) recently opened its first multiplex in Brazil, the first in a series that the Universal/Paramount joint venture plans for Latin America’s largest market.

The 10-screen, stadium-seat complex in the southern city of Curitiba has 2,280 seats and welcomed a crowd of about 5,000 in its first weekend of operation, according to UCI Brazil general manager Miguel Fontanet.

The exhib plans to open as many as eight plexes in 1998, five of which are already under construction.

Each UCI plex costs between $5 million reais and $6 million reais ($4.5 million and $5.5 million).

UCI is facing competition from U.S. exhibitor Cinemark, which on Oct. 28 opened in Sao Paulo its third Brazilian plex. In 1998, Cinemark intends to open 10 to 12 plexes in the country.

“I think there’s room for both of us,” said Fontanet, adding that he is optimistic about the growth prospects of the Brazilian exhibition market, despite the economic shakeup of recent weeks.

Estimates on the total number of screens in Brazil run from 1,200 all the way to 1,800.

The Ribeiro Group, a local exhib, is the country’s leading player with 122 screens.

Attracted by Brazil’s small number of screens, General Cinemas, Greater Union and Warner Bros. also are considering opening plexes in the country, according to market sources.

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