South Korean major CJ Entertainment has announced plans to expand its CGV multiplex line into the US, with its first venue scheduled to open in Los Angeles' Koreatown in 2004.

The venture marks the first effort by a Korean film company to target the Korean-American community through theatrical, rather than ancillary markets.

Ownership of the three-screen, 700-seat venue is to be structured as a yet-to-be-named joint venture with CJ Entertainment and US-based DC Town Capital, headed by David Chang. Operation of the theatre will be overseen by DC Town Capital, with CJ Entertainment responsible for distribution of Korean films subtitled in English as well as Hollywood and foreign features subtitled in Korean.

Los Angeles is home to the largest Korean population outside of Korea, with latest census figures placing the number of Koreans in Los Angeles County at 186,000. Already many Korean companies release video titles simultaneously in Korea and the US to target what is seen as a fast-growing market.

Lee Kang-bok, CEO of CJ Entertainment, will hope to replicate some of the successes enjoyed by other national cinemas such as India's in targeting overseas populations.

"We plan to utilise the knowledge gained by operating the CGV chain to provide overseas Koreans with an opportunity to discover Korean films," he said. "Hopefully this will also pave the way for greater inroads into the US market."