New Moscow plex part of grand plan

Exhib biz gets boost with Cinema Park venue

MOSCOW — Russia’s exhibition scene will take another leap forward Thursday with the opening of a major Moscow multiplex, the nine-screen Cinema Park at Kaluzhskaya.

The venture is the first project from Cinema Park, which is backed by ex-government minister Vladimir Potanin’s financial industrial group InterRos and headlined by helmer Nikita Mikhalkov, via his production company Tri-Te. Mikhalkov also is prexy of Russia’s Union of Filmmakers and head of the Moscow Intl. Film Festival.

InterRos subsidiary Profi-Media has an 80% stake in the company, with 20% held by Tri-Te. Projected investment through 2006 is $107 million, with $50 million in cash from Profi-Media, around $35 million from a share flotation and $20 million in a loan from a World Bank subsidiary.

Ambitious sked

The Moscow multiplex is the first stage in an ambitious development plan. Another Moscow plex is scheduled to open by October and a third in 2005, with two planned for St. Petersburg and another 10 skedded around Russia by 2006.

By then Cinema Park will have around 100 screens accounting for about 30% of market share in the rapidly growing exhibition sector.

Ticket prices at the Kaluzhskaya plex will range from 80-250 rubles ($2.50-$8). The opening film will be the Russian premiere of the “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”

All the new multiplexes will include automatic reporting of admissions for each screen to owners and distributors — a new feature for a country where ticket sales numbers sometimes are deflated by venue operators.

Distrib’n in works

Cinema Park also is keying up to enter the distribution market. It has bought 10 films, mainly from the U.S. indie and European markets.

Director general Sergei Kitin said he hoped the company would move toward a long-term relationship with Hollywood majors.

The main rival for Cinema Park remains the National Amusements-backed KinoStar, which opened its first 11-screener in Moscow in September, with a second venue due to open in October.

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