Barrandov Studios has announcedthat its owners have approved plans to build new stages to handle increasingdemand at the Prague studios.

Work is expected to begin in the spring and willcost roughly $4.2m (3.5m Euros).

The new complex will include severalsoundproof studios, one of which will be completed in 2006.

Other technicalparameters and the final number of stages will be determined at a meeting of Barrandov's board in January 2006.

The new studio space will not be completed in time to host Casino Royale,which is scheduled to complete shooting at Barrandovin the summer.

Barrandov had announced plans tobuild more stages as early as March 2003, when then marketing director Matous Forbelsky told that a new 4,000 squaremeter stage was in the works.

While plans for expansion have never been completely off thebooks, Barrandov spokeswoman DusanaChrenekova said the new space has finally receivedthe approval of the board of trustees.

"There is great interest in the studios at Barrandov," board president Tomas Chreneksaid in a news release. "Increasing the studio space raises our ability toaccommodate more foreign productions."

Studio space throughout Pragueis reportedly booked solid at present. Tomas Krejci, generalmanager at Prague Studios welcomed the news. Prague Studios has also sought to expand to fill the need for more stages. "This is verygood news for all of us here in Prague,"Krejci told"Prague does need morecapacity. By increasing capacity we can attract more business."

Stillking Films often works with Barrandov Studios on international productions. "Theprospect of offering new stages at Barrandov Studiosto our clients is definitely great news and we are very excited about it,"said David Minkowski, head of the film department at StillkingFilms. "It surely is one of the steps to bring more international projects[to the Czech Republic]"

Barrandov Studios announced before-taxprofits last year of $2.3m in a market worth $23.8m. Recently the studioshave hosted such productions as Omen 666and Young Hannibal: Behindthe Mask.