US-backed exhibitor Silver Screen Cinemas has opened its first multiplex in Warsaw marking the first phase of its ambitious plans to build a string of theatres across Eastern Europe.

Silver Screen has an exclusive agreement to operate cinemas built by US-backed property developer Portico Development, which has multiplex cinemas currently under construction, in Gdynia, Gdansk, Krakow and Wroclaw, and plans to build another 15 multiplexes over the next three years.

The eight-screen Warsaw cinema, located in central Warsaw, is being launched with a festival of French film and plans to screen a full schedule of Polish and international titles. Tickets will cost $2.6-3.3 (15.50-20 Polish zloty) with special $2 (12 zloty) discounted tickets for children and seniors.

The cinema faces competition from UCI and Ster Century, which already operate multiplexes in Warsaw, and from Loews and Israel''s IT International Theatres, both of which plan to open multiplexes in the city by next year.

Silver Screen claims it is the first company to launch the concept of luxury screening rooms in Poland. The Warsaw cinema''s "platinum" area has three luxury screening rooms with a total of 106 seats. Guests are served by waiters both in the bar area and in their seats prior to each screening. The cinema is also wired throughout with fibre optic cables capable of screening Internet and pay-per-view films.

Meanwhile the cinema''s "silver" zone features 22 high-speed Internet access terminals where customers can check e-mail and play computer games.

Silver Screen''s shareholders include the US'' Pacific Theatres Corporation, through its European representative Orbi SA, and US investment fund Apollo Real Estate Fund via a joint venture with Pelham Partners.