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Vajna plans circuit expansion

CANNES — Andrew Vajna has raised $25 million to help fund a major expansion of his Hungarian-based exhibition and distribution business throughout Central and Eastern Europe.

InterCom, the local company of indie Hollywood producer Vajna, is aiming to expand its circuit to 300 screens across six countries by 2003.

In partnership with Village Roadshow, it currently operates 32 screens in four sites in Hungary, under the Hollywood Multiplex banner.

It opened a multiplex last month in the Croatian capital Zagreb, and within days will launch its first theater in Bucharest, Romania. It is just starting construction on sites in Prague and Bratislava, Slovakia.

GE Capital, Raiffeisen Private Equity and ABN Amro are putting up the fresh coin alongside Vajna, who will remain the majority shareholder in InterCom.

As InterCom rolls out its exhibition chain, it will also expand its theatrical and video distribution business across the region. The company has exclusive distribution arrangements with several Hollywood studios in Hungary.

“Getting together with these financiers will give us a much more solid foundation to go forward,” Vajna told Variety in an interview on his vast luxury yacht in the Cannes Old Port.

“In Hungary we have proved that people will come back to the cinema if they have the kind of comfortable multiplexes we have in the West,” he said. “We have increased moviegoing by 50% in Budapest over the last five years.”

In Hungary, InterCom is planning to start developing four-screen sites in smaller towns. In countries such as Romania and Slovenia, the emphasis will be on bigger multiplexes. All will be housed within new shopping malls.

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