Roadshow pulls out of five more markets

Co. plans to slim down to 10 territories

SYDNEY — After exiting five territories in the past 12 months, Village Roadshow has made it known that it intends to quit a further five markets as part of a sweeping restructuring of its global exhibition interests.

The company is in advanced negotiations to sell its two multiplexes in Austria (totaling 18 screens) and 25% stake in 44 screens in Malaysia; it expects to finalize those deals within six months, deputy chairman Robert Kirby said last week.

VRL now operates 1,518 screens in 15 territories after unloading its circuits in Germany, France, Switzerland and Hungary and an entertainment complex in Athens (where it continues as the cinema operator) over the past 12 months.

Kirby said the plan is to slim down to about 10 territories in line with the company’s policy of looking “more clinically” at nonperforming assets.

Village plans to open 232 screens at 25 locations in the current fiscal year, expanding chiefly in the U.K., Taiwan, Italy and South Korea. The company reported exhib losses were offset by excellent results from VRL’s other core businesses comprising radio, distribution, theme parks and film production.

The production division generated a pre-tax profit of $15 million (a rise of 146%), reflecting an increase in product from the Village Roadshow Pictures-Warner Bros. co-venture. Among the VRP-WB titles set for release in the current fiscal year are “Don’t Say a Word,” “The Majestic,” “Zoolander,” “Queen of the Damned,” “Arac Attack,” “Showtime,” “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Pluto Nash.”

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