Mexican exhib will expand southward

Multiplexes for Guatemala and Ecuador

MIAMI — Grupo Ramirez has pacted to create multiplex theaters in Guatemala and Ecuador, marking its first forays outside the Mexican market it’s dominated for decades.

Ramirez has forged 50-50 deals with Ecuador’s Banco de Pichincha and Guatemalan exhib Fernando Paiz, both involving an initial two hardtops, company chief operating officer Alejandro Ramirez told Daily Variety.

In both arenas, the Mexicans will fit, equip and operate the venues, but not commit capital to land or construction, the exec said. Initial cost will be about $5 million.

“We’ll see how these first four theaters go, to see if we’ll keep expanding outside Mexico or of it’s more productive to stay inside,” Ramirez said.

The company is currently engaged in a massive build-out program on its home turf, as it tries to hold recent entrants Cinemark, General Cinemas and local upstarts Cinemex in check.

Ramirez operates 357 screens at 40 Mexican multiplexes (plus several hundred more screens at smaller venues). It is spending about $40 million per year to raise that total to at least 650 by year-end 2000, Ramirez said.

Both Ecuador and Guatemala are countries of around 10 million people with little experience of multiscreen theaters, though Cinemark has recently entered Ecuador.

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