Media-Most plans to expand

Holding company slates new film studio, cinemas

MOSCOW — Leading media holding company Media-Most has unveiled ambitious exhibition and production plans for the region, including construction of a film studio on the edge of the Russian capital.

The project will be carried out by KinoMost, which is 75% owned by Media-Most and 25% by the Moscow city government. The new studio will be led by Vladimir Dostal, who left Mosfilm studio unexpectedly in April after more than a decade at the helm to join magnate Vladimir Gusinsky’s Most group.

In an ironic and possibly confusing move, Dostal’s studio will be called Mostfilm.

It will be built on a 74-acre site just outside Moscow’s main ring road, with construction planned over five years. Dostal declined to announce the projected total cost, saying only that technical facilities, excluding cameras, are set to come in at approxi-mately $24 million. He added that all funding will be private, “without a kopeck from state budget sources.”

Dostal also confirmed Most’s plans for screen development in the territory, originally announced at the beginning of 1998. With an estimated spending of $100 million to $200 million over a seven-year period, KinoMost plans to establish a chain of 191 cinemas and multiplexes in 86 cities and 100 rural locations, with a total capacity of 144,000 seats.

The first stage of development, set for completion by Christmas 1999, will cover about 12% of that plan, and will center on conversion of the existing central Moscow screen, Oktyabr, into an 11-screen multiplex.

The Oktyabr complex should open by September 1999 and, according to Dostal, should earn back its investment over 4-1/2 years. He predicted ticket prices averaging around $7 to $8, rising to $10 to $13 occasionally.Other main first-wave multiplex developments are set for St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Tatarstan regional capital Kazan.