Loews Cineplex Entertainment has hired former Village Roadshow exec Ian Riches to help oversee its movie theater development in Europe and Asia.
Riches will start Monday in the newly created position of senior VP of Loews Cineplex Intl. He is expected to live in Rome for several months while focusing on efforts in Italy and Turkey. He then will relocate to Gotham.
A 20-year overseas exhib vet currently based in London, Riches helped run Australia-based Village Roadshow’s operations in Europe and Singapore. Prior to that, he spent 10 years with United Cinemas Intl., primarily developing properties in the U.K. and Japan.
“We intend to aggressively grow our ventures in Italy and Turkey, and Ian’s strategic and operational skills will play a very important role in that effort,” said Ted Shugrue, prexy of Loews Cineplex Intl.
LCI, the overseas unit of Loews Cineplex Entertainment, was formed two years ago. It has roughly 20 locations and 160 screens in Spain, Austria, Turkey, Hungary, Poland and Italy.
With most U.S. exhibs suffering from massive overbuilding and debt loads, circuits such as Loews, General Cinema, Hoyts, AMC and Cinemark are increasingly exploring the untapped potential of many overseas territories.
Shugrue said Riches’ appointment reps “a continuing commitment” to global markets.
“We see international as a tremendously important ingredient,” he said. “Because, let’s face it, the exhibition business in North America is struggling.”
(Don Groves in Singapore contributed to this report.)