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Kinowelt buys up a quarter of Village

Move comes after Hoyts pulls out of Germany

BERLIN — Kinowelt has taken a 25% stake in Village Cinema’s German circuit, signaling continuing dissatisfaction on the part of foreign exhibs with the German movie house market.

Village is the second foreign chain to pull out of Germany this year, following fellow Australian chain Hoyts, which likewise sold its local circuit, Theile-Hoyts, to Kinowelt.

A financial investment company is understood to have taken the remaining 75% stake of the Village chain, entrusting Kinowelt with the day-to-day management of the cinemas, which it will handle through its Kinopolis (Theile-Hoyts) venture.

With Village’s seven plexes in the bag, Kinowelt now has a 17% share of Germany’s multiplex business, controlling 160 screens and some 39,000 seats. An eighth Village plex in Munich is expected to be completed next year. Village’s seven plexes added 59 screens and 14,500 seats to the Kinowelt total.

“Through its many years of experience in the German media market and from its position running Kinopolis, Kinowelt is well placed to make the most of the potential of the German market,” Village’s Graham Burke said.

Second pact in week

Deal comes a week after Kinowelt announced it had sublicensed a package of Warner Bros. movie titles to pubcaster ZDF .

The two deals should help squelch rumors that Kinowelt was having difficulty meeting its bank obligations.

Company is pressing ahead with expanding Stateside through its Kinowelt USA office.

Foreign exhibitors’ departure en masse is seen as a result of disappointing movie grosses coupled with massive outlays for multiplex expansion.

There are now only two foreign players left, U.S. chain UCI and Oz’s Great Union, but the former is understood to be keen to exit. The company in recent months pulled out of two completed multiplex ventures, citing problems with the contractors and failure to deliver on time.

(Don Groves reported from Sydney.)

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