Poland leading new cinema push

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LONDON -- The number of cinema screens across Central Europe is set to rise to more than 3,000 by 2011, with Poland leading the multiplex charge, according to research published Monday.

U.K.-based exhibition research specialists Dodona Research says the figures represent a net increase of 11% from 2006, in a report titled Cinemagoing Central Europe 2007.

But the number of new cinemas constructed will be far greater because of the anticipated closure of many traditional cinemas, report author Alisdair Ritchie said.

Central Europe is one of the few remaining regions in the world where new cinema construction is still continuing apace, Dodona said.

Poland, the largest market in the region, will see the most growth in new multiplexes, which are springing up in shopping malls across the country. Poland's first multiplex was opened in 1998 and, since then, more than 400 multiplex screens have been built.

Smaller markets such as Croatia and Romania still have a proliferation of formerly state-owned cinemas, which are usually traditional, single-screen venues. "Many of these are expected to close as investment in modern multiplexes begins to get under way in earnest," the research states.

Cinemagoing Central Europe forecasts admissions to rise by 25% over the next five years, on the back of investment in new cinemas coupled with strong local film industries across the territories.

The entire region had a disastrous year in 2005, but the majority of markets proved able to bounce back in 2006, Dodona said.

"Our analysis revealed that Slovakia posted the strongest results in 2006, with a 53% rise in admissions from the previous year. Despite its old-fashioned infrastructure, admissions reached a record 3.4 million and Dodona expects them to rise by a further 21% by 2011," Ritchie said.

However, the strongest growth is expected in the larger, more mature market of the Czech Republic, where admissions are forecast to rise more than 50% by 2011. The country already has one of the strongest rates of cinema attendance in the region, but the anticipated admissions growth will take admissions-per-person ratios to a rate of 1.8, comparable to some Western European territories.
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