Plenus Entertainment, the parent of Korea's Cinema Service, today detailed its plans to challenge the market leaders in the country's exhibition sector (see Screendaily, April 14).

Plenus will launch a multiplex theatre chain, called Primus Cinema, which it aims to have operating 100 screens with some 24,000 seats by 2004.

Primus will be set up as a joint venture with local financier MVP Venture Capital. Together they have jointly committed to invest an initial $18m (Won23bn) into the project which will be headed by Plenus chief Park Byung-Moo and MVP's Lee Sung-Soo.

The circuit will focus its building efforts on the untapped secondary entertainment and leisure districts of the giant Seoul metropolis and other Korean cities. The first sites have been identified in Seoul's Shilim suburb and Daejon city.

Plenus' Park said: "In hand with the recent success and popularity of multiplexes, we plan to manage Primus Cinema as a multiplex venue of culture which will make efficient use of entertainment contents."

Stressing convergence and vertical integration with Cinema Service's existing activities, Park said: "We will link our enormously powerful contents that covers the whole field of the film industry-such as film production, distribution, talent management, and even film equipment rental-with Primus Cinema to produce great results."

Plenus will manage the cost of the new investment through the sale of its Coretech System subsidiary, in which if it yesterday sold a 49% stake for some $7m. It expects to sell the remaining shares by the first half of next year, releasing a further $2m of free cash.

The new venture will put Cinema Service on a par with the current leaders of the quickly-expanding local exhibition market. This is currently headed by CGV, a joint venture between rival distributor CJ Entertainment and Golden Village that currently operates 10 venues and 85 screens, Megabox Cineplex (5 venues, 42 screens), and Lotte Cinema (9 venues, 70 screens), part of the giant Lotte retailing and property development group.

Plenus currently has a small exhibuition division operating 24 screens in Gwangju, Jeonju, Jeju and Gyungju.