Oz exhib Greater Union inks Dutch treat

Partnership with Wolff will yield many plexes

SYDNEY — In a furthering of its international expansion plans, major Australian exhibitor Greater Union has inked a pact with family-owned Dutch outfit the Wolff Group to develop multiplexes in the Netherlands.

The first site for the joint venture is an eightplex at Haarlemmerplein, on the outskirts of Amsterdam, while sites for another 34 screens are being explored to add to Wolff’s present loop of 32 screens at 13 sites.

“The existing Dutch cinema market is characterized by middle-sized multiscreens (three to five screens) and there are only three real purpose-built multiplexes,” said Joachim Wolff, Wolff Group managing director and prexy of the European Union of Exhibitors’ Assns.

“With a population of 15.5 million, Holland represents one of the best opportunities in Europe with one cinema screen per 35,000 heads of population,” said GU managing director Robert Manson. “The country also has one of the lowest cinema visitation per capita in Europe, the highest ticket prices in the region, and a low level of modern multiplex development.”

The move comes just weeks after GU tapped Scott Dwyer to oversee its European operations from the German head office of Kieft & Kieft Filmtheater, in which GU bought a 50% stake in January.

GU/K&K currently operates 136 screens, with 200 more to bow in the next two years. Until that deal, GU’s only offshore operation was in the Middle East, where it plans to operate 50 screens, starting with a soon-to-bow 11-plex in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

GU currently operates 317 Oz screens and plans to have a direct interest in 850 screens worldwide by 2000.

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