Led by the Netherlands, one of the few European cinemamarkets to show growth in 2003, leading exhibitors in the Benelux regionreported improved financial results in the most recent period according to anew report from industry analysts, Dodona Research.

Pan-Europeanexhibitor, Kinepolis Group, with 124 screens in Belgium, recorded a profit forthe first time since 1999 due to a strategy of reducing costs and streamliningforeign expansion plans.

TheLuxembourg-based Utopia Group, which has expanded into Belgium and theNetherlands through acquisition and new cinema development, recorded a 9% risein sales turnover in 2003 to Euros 20.7m.

In theNetherlands, Pathe Theatres, which is owned by the French exhibitor,EuroPalaces, operates 105 cinema screens. A strong year for the Dutch industrysaw company's pre-tax profit rise 45% in 2003.

"Thesecompanies appear to be successfully managing to reduce overheads" said reportauthor, Katharine Wright. "However, they are not just cutting costs, but alsomoving forward with realistic cinema development plans and the introduction ofdigital technology, which will help the companies achieve growth in thefuture."

Part of thereason for their success, it seems, is thatexhibitors in the Benelux region, led by Kinepolis, have fully engagedwith the digital cinema revolution.

Kinepolisinstalled ten DLP Cinema projectors across its Belgian circuit in 2003 makingit Europe's largest high-end digital network.

UtopiaGroup, with 87 screens in Belgium, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, hassimilarly begun to implement a digital cinema strategy. By the end of 2004 thecompany plans to have installed ten digital projectors in its cinemas acrossthe Benelux region.