Singapore's signature Cathaybuilding will welcome back movie-goers again this week following a $100mredevelopment effort by resurgent exhibitor-distributor Cathay.

The old 16-storey building,when opened its doors to the public in 1939, was Singapore's first high-riseand housed the city's first air-conditioned cinema, the Cathay Cinema with1,300 seats.

The new 17-storey building,which retains the original historical fa'ade, features an eight-screenmultiplex including the Picturehouse which opened in 1990 as Singapore's firstarthouse cinema, in addition to food and beverage outlets, retail stores and aresidential tower.

"The Cathay is more than anew building. We hope it evokes the many memories it has held for so many forso long and creates new ones for the present generation and future generationsto come," says executive director Choo Meileen

Choo is the niece ofCathay's late founder Loke Wan Tho who developed the company into a verticallyintegrated movie empire combining exhibition, distribution and production inAsia.

The Wednesday night grandopening party promises to be an evening of surprise, complete with a secretopening movie.

Guests of honour includeMalaysia and Singapore pioneer film-maker L Krishnan who directed 19 films forCathay Keris studios; Malay actress Maria Menado, best known for her vampirerole in the Pontianak series; andMalay comedy actor Wahid Satay.

Other prominent guestsinclude Christopher Doyle, Tsui Hark and his wife Nansun Shi as well as PeterChan whose father used to work for Cathay (formerly known as MP&GI) in HongKong and Pen-ek Ratanaruang whose Invisible Waves will be screened during theopening film festival of the Picturehouse.

In Malaysia, Cathay is alsodue to open a RM12 m ($3.2m) 10-screen multiplex this summer.