LONDON — Stewart Blair, the former chairman and CEO of United Artists Theater Circuit, is joining London-based Pacific Media to lead the expansion of its international film exhibition business.
Blair will be chief exec of a new subsidiary of Pacific Media devoted to building and operating multiplexes outside North America.
Pacific Media, whose other interests include a 20% stake in a Chinese-language satellite channel in Europe, is quoted on London’s Alternative Investment Market and headed by chairman Michael Buckley.
“I really decided to do it for three reasons,” Blair said. “I’m a great believer in the international theater business and its expansion. I’m very aware of the advantage to starting a company that is essentially focusing on one thing and is a pure investment vehicle. We’re trying to create a subsidiary that, with the passage of a few years, will come to define Pacific Media’s existence.”
The company already has a joint venture with United Artists Theater Circuit to develop cinemas in the Far East, with two up and running in Singapore and two more due to open in Bangkok this year.
Blair will spearhead further expansion in Asia, South America, Europe and the southern hemisphere, generally seeking local partners to build around 250 theaters worldwide. The new Pacific Media subsidiary is hoping to raise between $60 million and $80 million to finance these deals over the next four years.
Blair said that “1996 was the first year that cinema revenues from the rest of the world exceeded revenues from North America, and this is a trend that is going to continue.
“Further, given the level of competition in the U.S., the traditional U.S. cinema companies may not have the man-agement resources to take advantage of this growing new marketplace,” he added. “We aim to fill this niche.”
Blair led the $700 million management buyout of UATC in 1992, but left the company in December because it would not support his aggressive plans for international expansion.
(Anita M. Busch in Los Angeles contributed to this report.)