General Cinema in Paradiso plex plot

4,500-seat venue to dock in Puerto Madero

BUENOS AIRES — U.S. exhib General Cinema has inked a deal with Argentine developer Cinema Paradiso to build what it believes will be the largest venue in Latin America, a 21-screener to seat 4,500.

Paradiso is headed by Alberto Gonzalez, who last year sold his cable programming company Imagen Satelital to the Cisneros TV Group for $114 million.

The deal accelerates GC’s Latino expansion strategy, which began with a jumpstart last year when it acquired the Argentine and Mexican assets of United Artists Theater Circuit.

GC now operates two Argentine plexes and five more in Mexico, and recently signed a letter of intent to build its debut Brazilian venue in suburban Sao Paulo.

Regional topper Delfin Fernandez said GC aims in each of the three countries to open five sites per year — averaging 14 screens each — over the next five years.

“We’re talking about an initial investment of $50 million to $100 million per country over the first three years of building. In Mexico it will be more like $50 million because of our 50-50 partnership with developers Bufete Industrial,” Fernandez told Daily Variety.

The $22 million B.A. theater will go up in the hot real estate district of Puerto Madero, as part of an entertainment complex that will include a convention center, a Hilton hotel, 35 restaurants and other stores.

Altogether, Gonzalez is said to be committing $120 million to the project. The entire Puerto Madero area — a disused port — will see an estimated $2 billion in investment by 2005, local press reports estimate.

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