Largest Cinema Chain
LONDON – A consortium – comprised in part
of United Kingdom distributor Entertainment Film Distributors
(EFD), German bank WestLB and property owner Robert Tchenguiz – purchased
the United Kingdom’s largest circuit, Odeon Cinemas,
for $715 million on March 7.
With 608 screens at 97 sites, Odeon
was previously owned by Cinven, a private equity group,
which merged the chain
with the Virgin/ABC circuit.
The purchase marks the first deviation
from distribution for EFD, which served as local distributor
titles as “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the
Ring,” “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and “Gosford
Largest Japanese Exhib
Toho Takes Over
TOKYO – Japanese distributor/exhibitor Toho announced
on Feb. 25 a deal to acquire the assets of Virgin Cinemas
Japan, which operates 81 screens at eight sites.
which currently operates 284 screens in Japan, becomes
the largest exhibitor in the country
post-acquisition screen count of 365.
In addition to a highly anticipated
multi set to bow April 25 in Tokyo’s popular Roppongi district,
the combined company is also expected to open a new
multiplex by the end of the year in Sapporo, located
on Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido.
Partners Acquire Stake
Warner Bros. Divests
SYDNEY, Australia – Warner
Bros. announced March 11 the sale of its one-third
stake in the 319 screens
it co-owns with venture partners Village Roadshow Ltd.
and Greater Union.
The exhib reportedly sold the share
to its partners for nearly $60 million.
French Specialty Multi
PARIS – French exhibitor MK2 unveiled on Feb.
17 its new $30-million 14-screen speciality house on
Paris’ East Side.
The site, situated next door to the
National Library, boasts a futuristic glass structure,
a café, a record and DVD store and two art gallery
spaces. Designer tableware and red love seats are also
The opening fete featured the premiere
screening of Claude Chabrol’s “La Fleur Du Mal.”
MK2 operates 44 specialty screens
and took in 3.5 million admissions last year, a 12-percent
share of the city’s
32 Cinemas To German Exhib
Kieft & Kieft
Buys Ufa Sites
LUEBECK, Germany – Germany’s Kieft & Kieft
Filmtheatres (KKF) announced Feb. 12 that it will be
acquiring 32 of the bankrupt Ufa chain’s 37 sites.
The deal is expected to make KKF Germany’s
largest exhibitor, with nearly 145,000 seats at 96
Leubeck-based KKF already operates the
CineStar chain in German-language territories, as well
as in the Netherlands
and the Czech Republic. It expanded quickly after the
Berlin Wall’s 1989 fall by buying up and renovating
a fleet of East German cinemas.
Hamburg-based Ufa, which filed for insolvency
protection in October (In Focus, December 2002), is
one of Germany’s
most historic cinema companies.
RoWo Holding will handle marketing duties
for the Ufa sites while KKF will run the daily business
15 Russian Cities
Unveils Game Plan
MOSCOW – Russian capitalist Alexander Timofeyev
has announced that he and his Investkinoproyekt partner
plan to construct four to six Russian multis a year,
according to Screen Daily.
Investkinoproyekt, which currently owns
and operates one Russian cinema, has bought sites for
in 15 cities and is looking for investors to supply
the $5 million to $8 million needed for each project.
Rus bank is set to invest $9 million
in an Investkinoproyekt Moscow 10-plex. Two other Investkinoproyekt
are currently under construction.
Film Funding Body
Saves Largest Single
ESSEN, Germany – Following $640,000 in renovations, Germany’s largest
single reopened March 16.
Funded by Filmstiftung NRW, the upgrade of the
historic 1,250-seat Essen cinema, originally
erected in 1928, was part of an initiative
in cooperation with North
Rhine-Westphalia’s Ministry for Residential Affairs.
Vintage interior designs were
retained at the facility while state-of-the-art
projection technology was added.
3D For Nation’s
Site in Bulgaria
SOFIA, Bulgaria – Sofia Film marked the February bow of its Moskva 3D
Cinema in Sofia, Bulgaria, with screenings of Imax’s “3D Mania:
Encounter in the Third Dimension” and “Haunted Castle.”
The 250-seat site suggests a renewed
interest in 3D cinema among Bulgarians – in
the 1980s, a Soviet-made 3D cinema opened in the city and was said to be
extremely popular until a lack of product forced