Russian Cinema Chain Pledges $150 Million Investment for 'Next Generation' Movie Theaters

Moscow's Red Square

Karo Film plans to open state-of-the-art multiplex theaters in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Siberia.

MOSCOW -- Russian cinema chain Karo Film said Thursday it would spend $150 million over the next two years in a capital investment and expansion program.

The investment program, in association with equity investors Russian Direct Investment Fund and Baring Vostok, will include building and developing what the company calls Russia's largest "next generation" movie theaters.

The first of the new cinema complexes, the Karo Vegas 22 Megaplex, where builders have already broken ground, is due to open in July in Crocus City, a major shopping and entertainment site on the outskirts of Moscow, easily accessible from the city's beltway MKAD road.

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The 19,000-square-meter site will house 22 screens and 5,000 seats.

Two other sites will open in Moscow during the year, including the 18-screen Karo AviaPark. The exhibitor also is finalizing negotiations to begin construction on "next generation" cinema complexes in St. Petersburg and Siberia next year, with openings scheduled for early 2015. Karo's investment program includes $22 million for renovating existing venues and increasing the company's IT capabilities and infrastructure.

The Karo Vegas 22 Megaplex will be the first cinema complex in the world to have "multiple premium large-format halls," the company says.

The "LUXE RealD Experience" halls were developed with leading 3D pioneer RealD.

The "next generation" concept includes better seating, food and beverage outlets, plus a wide range of on-site, online and app options for ticketing and other features.

Karo's chief executive officer, Paul Heth, an American businessman with more than 20 years' experience in movie exhibition and production in Russia, said: "The Russian cinema audience today expects a more all-encompassing film-going experience."