Sony, Loews in Spanish plex pact

Yelmo deal allows Sony access to top exhib in growing market

MADRID — Sony looks set to storm into European multiplexing, in a deal with Spain’s Loews Cineplex, in which Sony holds a 51% stake, and Yelmo Films, the top local cinema circuit.

The deal will see Loews Cineplex and Yelmo creating a 50/50 joint venture, provisionally named Yelmo Cineplex, which will aggressively pursue new megaplex and multiplex construction in Spain. Yelmo owner Ricardo Evole will become its executive president.

Brokered by Columbia TriStar Film Distributors Intl. President Ted Shugrue, Loews Cineplex CEO Larry Ruisi and Evole for Yelmo Films, the deal should be inked next week and officially announced at the Cinema Expo in Amsterdam in mid-June. Evole could not be reached for comment.

The deal makes sense for both partners. Yelmo owns 105 screens in Spain and programs another 75 screens, including 43 belonging to the Sanchez Ramade circuit in southern Spain.

Loews stands to gain

Teaming with Yelmo, Loews gains immediate access to a top exhib in a booming exhibition market, which has seen its gross box office rocket up yearly from $245.5 million in 1992 to $384.1 million last year.

Yelmo’s partnership with Loews and Sony will allow the Spanish exhib to flex plex muscle in a market which has now attracted most of the world’s most ambitious exhibitors in the world.

AMC Europe, Kinepolis, UGC Cine Cite and Warner Bros. are all opening big multis or megaplexes in Spain; the Paramount Universal owned UCI-Cinesa already owns 111 screens in the country.