Bonton wins bid to build Prague plex

PRAGUE — Czech entertainment conglom Bonton, in partnership with France’s Gaumont, has won a hotly contested bid for a choice property in central Prague.

The large-scale renovation of Slovensky Dum has already been approved for multiplex development. Bonton plans to build a 10- to 12-screen plex with up to 2,300 seats.

Among the competitors for the space was a group headed by Oscar-winning director Jan Sverak. Sverak had hoped to turn the Slovensky Dum space into a more intimate arthouse complex, with some 1,600 seats, with himself acting as programming adviser. The power of Sverak’s name attached to the plan led to a close vote, despite the director’s lack of previous exhibition experience.

In the end, it was Bonton’s previous track record as one of the original partners in the successful Galaxie multiplex, the first in Central Europe, that helped it win the bid.

The Slovensky Dum plan marks the first site purchase in the Bonton-Gaumont project to build up to six multiplexes in the Czech and Slovak Republics. The opening is projected for 2000.

The announcement came just one day after Bonton signed a contract for the first music megastore site in Budapest. The Czechs will put up to $2 million into the 1,500-square-meter space, which should open in November 1998.

Bonton is also close to signing on megastore sites in Poland.

Co-president Zdenek Kozak said Bonton is aiming for fall 1998 openings of stores in Lodz and Wroclaw.

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