WB pulls out as Portugal exhibitor

Profits will go into new territories

Add Portugal to the list of markets from which Warner Bros. is withdrawing as an exhib.

The studio is selling its 50% stake in the Portuguese circuit to its partner Lusomundo for 21 million euros ($22.3 million).

The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval by the country’s competition authority, is due to be unveiled today (Wednesday).

Launched in 1992, the loop comprises 105 screens at 13 sites, including two multiplexes which bowed in the past two weeks. Circuit accounts for about 40% of the territory’s B.O.

The sale is in line with Warner Bros. Intl. Theaters’ strategy of helping to develop exhibition in various territories, exiting when each market matures, and plowing the proceeds into seeding new markets.

Last week WB closed the deal to withdraw from its Australian joint venture with Village Roadshow and Greater Union. Warner and its partner Village are negotiating to sell their 336-screen U.K. loop to fledgling exhib SBC Intl.

The deal in Portugal differs as the cinemas will continue to trade under the Warner Lusomundo brand and Warner will assist in the design of future sites; WB will get a financial benefit from this arrangement.

“We are keen to continue our good, strong relationship with (Lusomundo parent) Portuguese Telecom,” WB Intl. Theaters prez Millard Ochs told Daily Variety.

Ochs added the sale “has no bearing on the profits of the business; all these (joint venture) businesses are profitable. It’s time to move on.”

He said the profits would be invested primarily in developing WB Theaters’ presence in China, where it is partnered in one multiplex in Shanghai and is awaiting official approval for the co-venture before further building.

Warner’s alliance with Lusomundo in Spain isn’t affected by the Portuguese transaction.

Since Warner Lusomundo was launched in 1992 the exhib sector in Portugal has undergone a revolution. The number of screens has mushroomed from 232 to approximately 580. Single screens have all but disappeared and the market is dominated by multiplexes. Admissions soared from 8 million in 1992 to 20-21 million. Average ticket prices have risen from euros 1.75 to 4 over this period.

Since 2000, the market has stabilized and the number of Warner Lusomundo screens is not likely to grow significantly; nor are there likely to be many more multiplexes built in Portugal, since the main urban centers are at saturation point. Admissions at Warner Lusomundo screens reached a peak in 2001 at 6.9 million and suffered a small drop in 2002 due to the slowdown of the Portuguese economy.

Asked about the state of negotiations in the U.K, Ochs said, ” . . .So far so good, but there’s no (set) date for closing.”

(Martin Dale in Lisbon contributed to this report)

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Bull

    Annie Silverstein's 'Bull' Takes Top Awards, Robert Pattinson Starrer 'The Lighthouse' Wins Jury Prize at Deauville

    Annie Silverstein’s feature debut “Bull” swept three awards at the 45th Deauville American Film Festival, including the Grand Prize, the Revelation Prize for best first film and the Critics’ Prize. “Bull,” a portrait of a rebellious teenage girl from South Texas, world premiered at Cannes’s Un Certain Regard and marks Silverstein’s follow up to her [...]

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Jennifer Lopez's 'Criminal' Striptease: How 'Hustlers' Landed the Fiona Apple Hit

    Contrary to what you might be expecting, the number of songs by Jennifer Lopez, Lizzo and Cardi B in “Hustlers,” their newly released acting vehicle, adds up to … zero. Meanwhile, the standout music sync in a movie that’s full of them belongs to no less likely a choice than Fiona Apple. The scene in [...]

  • Game of Thrones Season 8

    'Game of Thrones,' 'Avengers' Win Big at 45th Annual Saturn Awards

    As Jamie Lee Curtis picked up her first trophy ever at the 45th Annual Saturn Awards Friday night, she had a good luck charm on her arm: former manager Chuck Binder, whom she said was the reason she became an actor. “I was in college and had no thought of being an actor,” Curtis told [...]

  • Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu star

    Box Office: 'Hustlers' Dances Toward $32 Million Opening Weekend

    “Hustlers” is eyeing the biggest opening weekend ever for STXFilms, following a Friday domestic ticket haul of $13.1 million from 3,250 theaters. If estimates hold, the stripper saga could take home around $32 million come Sunday, marking the best live-action opening of Jennifer Lopez’s career. “Hustlers” follows a group of former strip club dancers, led [...]

  • Hustlers intimacy coordinator

    Meet the Stripper Consultant Who Gave 'Hustlers' Authenticity, Dignity and Sexual Freedom

    At last week’s Toronto Film Festival premiere of “Hustlers,” an audience of Hollywood heavyweights and Canadian locals applauded as a statuesque woman strutted on stage, rocking six-inch platform heels and a pastel tie-dye bodysuit. This adoration was not for stars Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu or Keke Palmer, nor was it for the film’s acclaimed writer-director [...]

  • Kristen Stewart

    French Director Olivier Assayas Pays Tribute to Kristen Stewart at Deauville

    French director Olivier Assayas paid tribute to Kristen Stewart, whom he directed in “Clouds of Sils Maria” and “Personal Shopper,” at the Deauville American Film Festival on Friday evening. Stewart received a honorary award in Deauville before the French premiere of Benedict Andrews’s “Seberg” in which the actress stars as Jean Seberg, a French New [...]

  • Liam Gallagher: As It Was

    Film Review: 'Liam Gallagher: As It Was'

    Liam Gallagher is nearly as fascinating a rock ‘n’ roll figure as he thinks he is … which is saying a lot. After the breakup of Oasis, one of the most self-avowedly arrogant stars in pop culture found himself severely humbled, fighting to become relevant again without the help of Noel, his ex-bandmate and, for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content