Italy’s plexes multiply

Number expected to top 200 in '98

ROME — Traditionally one of the most underscreened of the major European markets, Italy is slowly inching its way toward a healthier exhibition sector. Figures due to be published this week by national exhibitor association ANEC show the number of multiplexes in the country poised to overtake the 200 mark.

Construction is under way on 28 new multiscreen theaters housing 101 screens, which will bring the national multiplex total to 218 sites and 631 screens. This represents just under one third of Italy’s current overall screen count of around 2,000.

After years of inactivity and negligible growth in the multiplex sector, a government push headed by deputy premier Walter Veltroni has significantly increased development by streamlining the previously daunting bureaucratic procedures for obtaining licenses. Government reports say a total of 518 new screens were opened in Italy in 1997.

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