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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

St. Petersburg Gets Its First IMAX Cinema

ST. PETERSBURG -- St. Petersburg's first IMAX cinema complex will open April 26 in the KinoStar City entertainment center, the entrepreneurs and investors behind the project said at a news conference last Tuesday.

The five-story cinema, which will be inaugurated with a showing of Spiderman III, is the brainchild of Rising Star Media, which already operates several multiplexes in the country.

Rising Star Media, which is a joint venture of National Amusements and Soquel Ventures, has also drawn two partners to execute the project -- IMAX Corporation and Coca-Cola HBC, or CCHBC, Eurasia.

Soquel Ventures CEO and Rising Star Media president Paul Heth did not disclose the total volume of investment into the IMAX cinema at KinoStar City, but he did note that the development of such a project in the United States normally requires around $1 million in investment. The 10,000-square-meter KinoStar City multiplex will also feature 14 large, high-quality screens, including one IMAX screen.

"This will be the largest investment into cinema in Russia," Heth said.

Dmitry Zolin, managing partner of LCMC, estimated that the mutliplex's profitability could reach 50 percent per year, meaning that investment would pay off within a period of just two to three years.

"Given the correct concept, absolutely any multiplex in a mall would be profitable. The mall will also benefit from such a neighbor because a cinema attracts additional crowds," Zolin said.

The center will have 4,000 seats, 400 of them in the IMAX hall. The center will also house a 20-lane bowling alley, several restaurants, six karaoke halls and a gambling outlet.

"Coca-Cola HBC Eurasia sees great potential in KinoStar City. In many countries this partnership has proved its efficiency. Combining IMAX technology with CCHBC efforts will surely result in a synergetic effect," said Yelena Lavina, external affairs manager for Coca-Cola HBC Eurasia in St. Petersburg.

Coca-Cola is aiming to consolidate its sales share in Russian cinemas through close cooperation with industry leaders, Lavina said.

Heth promised to open another multiplex in St. Petersburg by the end of 2007 in the Dybenko Mega mall, which will have 10 screens.

The company is negotiating its expansion into the regions. By the end of 2008 about eight multiplexes will operate in Russia, he said.

Heth said he had been looking for an opportunity to open a cinema in St. Petersburg for several years.

Around one billion people have enjoyed the IMAX experience around the world, said Larry O'Reilly, executive vice president for development of IMAX theaters, at Tuesday's news conference.

"We are big believers that movies should be seen in theaters, and that they should be in IMAX theaters," O'Reilly said.

Speaking about the financial prospects of the IMAX screen, O'Reilly said audiences needed to be given "an excuse to leave their homes and go to the theater."