Big screen for Blockbuster

Its first theater to open in Mexico

Blockbuster will open an 11-screen multiplex in Mexico in mid-May, marking the video rental giant's first foray into the theatrical exhibition business.

Dubbed Blockbuster Cinema, it is the company's first theater opening worldwide. Spokeswoman Karen Raskopf said Friday that Blockbuster Mexico has entered into a licensing agreement with Promotora Forjadores, a Mexican real estate investment firm.

Promotora Forjadores provided 100% of the capital investment. No additional financial details were available.

With stadium seating and digital sound, the state-of-the-art multiplex will open in Cholula, Mexico. Cholula lies 75 miles southeast of Mexico City and 10 minutes from the city of Puebla, Mexico's fifth-largest city.

Raskopf said the company has no immediate expansion plans in Mexico or elsewhere. Jorge Saldivar, who oversees marketing and new business for Blockbuster Mexico, said the company will evaluate expansion opportunities if the Cholula model works well.

In addition to licensing its brand, Blockbuster also will operate the theater under a 10-year operation services agreement.

With nearly 4,000 screens nationwide, Mexico has one of Latin America's most saturated exhibition markets. Saldivar, who will oversee Blockbuster Cinema's operations, believes Cholula offers an attractive competitive environment.

"Cholula has a population of about 220,000, so it's good in terms of population density," he said. He added that the city has no multiplexes.

The cinema is going up in a new shopping center, which also will have a mini Blockbuster store. One of its screens will be dedicated to art house films.
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