Virgin Japan bowing plexes

Theater openings include a suburban Tokyo site

TOKYO — Virgin Cinemas Japan plans to open two multiplexes in Japan by the end of the year, including a suburban Tokyo plex. The operation bowed in April with the opening of a 14-screen theater.

The nine- and 12-plexes are slated to open by late November or early December, said Virgin Cinemas Japan G.M. Anthony Winston.

Virgin’s first complex in the southwestern city of Fukuoka, the country’s number No. 9 movie market, seats 2,813 in its 14 theaters. The country’s largest plex, the facility boasts a first-class 95-seat theater featuring waiter service prior to showings; its largest theater seats 382.

Virgin plans to build 20 multiplexes in Japan by 2003 with an investment of $160 million.

Winston said the Japan plexes have been designed for the local market and come with specially made seats and color patterns different from those used in Britain.

The leading multiplex operator in Japan is Warner Mycal, which operates about 200 screens, or 10% of the market.