Cinema Park, the verticallyintegrated Russian production, distribution and exhibition outfit, has secureda $20m loan from World Bank Group member The International Finance Corporation forits ongoing theatre-building project.

At a time ofmassive growth in the country's exhibition sector, Cinema Park plans to build achain of 20 multi-screen cinemas at a cost of $84m across Russian federationcities including Moscow, St Petersburg, NizhliNovgorod, Krasnoyarsk, and Rostov-na-Donu.

Companyexecutives plan to acquire or lease retail space in shopping and entertainmentcentres as well as in freestanding buildings and have also set their sights onrestoring smaller theatres in regional centres.

The project issponsored by the Interros Group, the major private Russian investor that owns80% of Cinema Park and whose otherinterests span mining, banking, power machines and media.

The remaining 20% of CinemaPark is owned by Russian film studio Studio Trite, which is run by the Oscarwinning producer/director Nikita Mikhalkov (Burnt by the Sun).

CinemaPark currently has one six-screen theatre, MDM-Kino, operating in the centre ofMoscow and nine more multiplexes in various stages of development across thecountry.

Its firstnine-screen theatre is scheduled to open in Moscow in December and the companyexpects to have more than 70 screens in major Russian cities by the end of2004.

All constructionand renovation work is being carried out by leading US and European companiesusing state-of-the-art projection and sound equipment.

As previouslyreported here, a report by industry analysts Dodona Research has predicted thatRussia will become the sixth biggest European market within five years, withbox office forecast to rise to $400m.

Cinema Park isalsoactively involvedin film acquisitionsthrough Cinema ParkDistribution - its film-buying arm in Los Angeles. During the past two filmmarkets the company acquired films from Lions Gate, Arclight, Senator,Winchester, Capitol, MPCA, Hannibal, as well as the $65m Foodfight! animated feature from Seven Arts.