UK independent exhibitor Apollo Cinemas has unveiled a £50mthree-year development programme to bring luxury cinemas to UK town centres.

At a time when the major cinema players are undergoingconsolidation, the move underscores the long-term confidence in the market -and especially for premium rate 'event destinations'.

This week the company launched its new flagship cinema, theApollo West End in central London - a five screen £3m refurbishment of theformer Plaza cinema.

In a first for the exhibition industry, the company secureda drinks licence, not only for the bar area, but also for the auditoriathemselves.

Other sites in the company's UK development portfolio (whichwill add 123 screens to the current circuit of 57 by end-2006) include:Altrincham, Weston Super Mare, Stroud, Newbury, Leamington Spa and Bradfordamongst others.

Apollo Cinemas chairman, Paul Gregg said "This flagshiplaunch is the right opportunity to promote our future development of a luxury'club class' cinema environment across affluent UK towns and cities".