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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moscow to Enter Orbit of Planet Hollywood

A touch of Hollywood will be coming soon to a restaurant near you.


The movie theme restaurant Planet Hollywood, where drinks are named after films, is planning a Russia debut this fall.


"We just feel that Moscow deserves Planet Hollywood, or that Planet Hollywood deserves Moscow, either way," said Moscow office managing director S. Gafni, who asked to be named by his first initial.


Although design plans remain sketchy, diners at the Moscow restaurant, in keeping with the theme at its 30 branches in major cities worldwide, will be surrounded by a film fanatic's dream world: movie clips and previews will run continuously and the walls will be decked with memorabilia from the Russian and American silver screen.


"We will work very closely with the Russian film industry," said Gafni, stressing that the opening of the restaurant does not mean an impending Hollywood invasion of Moscow. "We feel the film industry in Russia, especially after winning the Oscar, deserves more attention," he added, referring to Nikita Mikhalkov's "Burned by the Sun," which won the prize for 1995's best foreign film.


Still, the Tinsel Town touches will be unmistakable. Famous Hollywood stars -- as yet unspecified -- will be on hand within a few months for the Moscow ground breaking ceremony, and will return again for the opening-day kickoff and periodic visits to the restaurant throughout the year, said Gafni.


Planet Hollywood itself is the brainchild of Keith Barish, producer of "Sophie's Choice" and "9 1/2 Weeks." He launched it in 1991 along with restaurateur Robert Earl and movie stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore and Sylvester Stallone.


The screen influence is reflected in the menu. The London Planet Hollywood offers customers drinks named after blockbuster films such as "Home Alone," a strawberry, banana and grenadine virgin cooler, or "Dirty Harry," a gold tequila, Cointreau and Midori margarita.


While no film names grace the food, diners at the Washington restaurant can try out California-style dishes like turkey burgers and shrimp salad or "Schwarzenegger's mother's renowned apple "Planet Hollywood is not just a restaurant, it's an experience," said Gafni, who declined to disclose his nationality.


Planet Hollywood's first venture into the former Soviet bloc carries a "multimillion-dollar" price tag, according to Gafni, and will include unspecified local partners.


It will employ between 450 and 500 people, he said.


The Orlando, Florida-based company has opened most of its restaurants in the United States but there are several in Europe, including London, Paris, Barcelona and Helsinki. The company plans to open an additional 14 restaurants this year in cities as far apart as Tel Aviv and Sydney, said Gafni.


Some Russian film industry buffs said they had never heard of Planet Hollywood, although they voiced general approval of the concept.


"Where is there a place where you can see memorabilia from Russian films? So long as there's no competition, so long as it's for people to get closer to film, we'll be glad to see it," said Naum Kleiman, director of the Cinema Museum -- also on Krasnaya Presnaya -- which shows old Russian movies.


"I can see nothing bad about it," said Viktor Listov, a film historian at the Cinema Art Scientific Investigative Institute. "It's a good idea."


Gafni said Planet Hollywood will make its facilities available to Russian film glitterati for special events, including film festivals, exhibitions and project announcements, but he said the cinematic flash will not translate into a slick watering hole for New Russians with money to burn.


"This will not be Maxim's," Gafni said. "An average Russian should be able to enjoy a nice meal and an experience. We are a family restaurant."


Prices should compare with those at Planet Hollywoods in Western Europe, he said.


According to a menu from the London restaurant, prices range from about $2.40 for a virgin "E.T." fruit cooler to $7.40 for a basket of chicken breaded with Cap'n Crunch cereal.


Along with the "standard Planet Hollywood" fare, the Krasnaya Presnya Ulitsa location will also offer various Russian dishes, Gafni said.