Australia is to get its biggest purpose-built arthouse cinemain late 2006, a nine-screen complex in the national capital of Canberra that will link the Dendy and Electric Shadowsbrands.

It will also be the firstspecialist complex to feature small, intimate auditoriums - two 35-seaters -with food and beverage delivered directly to customers. "Capital class" is oneof the names being considered.

To date in Australia, this style of cinema has only been part of flagshipmainstream complexes. But it will also have an auditorium of 450 seats designedto suit the scheduling of the best mainstream films.

Andrew Pike, owner of theElectric Shadows twin cinema in Canberra and distributor Ronin Films, says he expects thedevelopment to dramatically expand the market for quality films. It will alsobe helped by the local government's current aim of revitalising the inner city.The Dendy Electric Shadows Cinema will be the anchor tenant at the new largescale Canberra CBD development of QIC Real Estate.

While there are no otherarthouse screens in the city, Pike believes Canberra's mainstream theatres screen more specialist cinemathan their counterparts elsewhere. With the partnership between ElectricShadows and Dendy, there will now be the buying power and capital to compete.

"The great cities of theworld boast legendary film houses such as the Angelika in New York, Le Balzac in Paris and Dendy Opera Quays in Sydney," said managing director Richard Becker in astatement issued by the Becker Group. "Canberra will soon be able to claim one of the great cinemasof the world with the opening of this national flagship."

The Dendy circuit will have30 screens once this cinema and the new five-screen Portside site opens in Brisbane. Palace, which is half owned by Village Roadshow, isthe only bigger arthouse circuit.