A new state-of-the-art 21-screen multiplex, Cinema City, opens on the outskirts of Tel Aviv today, while plans are revealed for what could be the world's largest cinema, a 34-screen megaplex in Lisbon.

Cinema City, which is the largest complex in the Middle East, boasts Sony's SDDS sound system in every screen, and it includes one CINEMAXX theatre, as well as one dynamix and one Imagic cinema, both built with the assistance of Israeli simulator specialists Ashrad.

Constructed by NLC, a partnership between Samuel Hadida's Paris-based Metropolitan Filmexport, Israeli distribution/exhibition/homevideo house United King Films and Iris Investments, which will manage the complex, the cost of the entire project is $70m, with $20m invested in the equipment alone.

Asked whether this was perhaps a risky time to start such a venture in Israel, veteran French producer/distributor Samuel Hadida said that he believed now more than ever, there was a dire need to stick to normal life here.

This is the first in a number of cinemas planned by NLC, which will include three complexes due to open next year in Portugal: Coimbra (12 screens), Leiria (9 screens) and Cascais (9 screens)..A 4-screen art house complex is also being planned for Lisbon.

More ambitiously, the company is planning what could become the world's largest cinema, a 34-screen megaplex in Lisbon, to be opened in 2004, accompanied by a slightly less ambitious 24-screen complex in Porto.

Additionally, NLC is working on a 25-screen site in Athens, and on a 24-screener in Milan. A project of similar size in Istanbul has been temporarily stalled by the elections there, though the company hopes to resume the project soon, which will include a smaller version of the Futuroscope show, as seen in Poitiers, France.