German exhibitor Kieft & Kieft Filmtheater will open its first multiplex through the Cinestar joint venture, created with Italy's Mediaport and property developer Dora, in Udine, Italy on September 14.

Kieft and Mediaport, which is part-owned by state-backed Italian producer-distributor Istituto Luce, launched the joint venture, which aims to build 20 multiplexes across Italy, earlier this year. Kieft owns 40% of Cinestar while Mediaport and Brescia-based Dora both own 30%. A German executive is expected to head the company.

Mediaport already operates a nine-screen complex in Genoa which be folded into the joint venture. The Udine site will be followed by multiplexes in Padova and Avellino at the end of the year and another in the Rome suburb of Fiano Romano in March 2001.

Istituto Luce president Angelo Guglielmi said the venture was part of his strategy to develop underscreened regions of Italy, outside the main cities. The state-backed body already operates 80 screens in Rome while Kieft & Kieft owns 300 screens in Germany.

Meanwhile, Giovanni Tamberi, who was recently appointed as director of Istituto Luce's Films Division, has said he plans to experiment with new release tactics such as the release of Lars Von Trier's Dancer In The Dark on Wednesday October 18th, the same day that it is released in France. Italy traditionally opens films on Fridays, but Tamberi said a Wednesday release pattern could attract more young people as most theatres offer student rates on that day.