United International Pictures has confirmed plans to open a branch office in Moscow to distribute films directly to cinemas in Russia.

East West Creative Associates, UIP's partner for over 13 years, will cease trading as a distributor from that date but will continue to be involved in film production.

UIP chairman and CEO Stewart Till commented: "We are delighted to confirm that most of the East West team involved in distributing UIP films over recent years have agreed to become UIP employees. In particular, Eugene Beginin, who has led East-West to such a leading position among Russian distributors, will become the head of UIP's branch office. This continuity of management will ensure a smooth transition from East West to UIP enabling us to concentrate on building success for the future"

UIP's new Head in Russia Eugene Begin commented. "I am delighted to be bringing my team into the UIP family. It is a real vote of confidence in the business I have built up over the years as UIP's agent."

UIP's Russia branch will begin trading from the beginning of April.

The new venture was announced at Moscow's Film Market, where local exhibitors were screened a preview of the titles for release in the balance of 2004 and into 2005.

UIP unveiled trailers For Shrek 2, Along Came Polly, Dawn Of The Dead, The Stepford Wives and Mean Girls amongst others. The presentation included an exclusive preview of footage from The Bourne Supremacy, partly filmed in Moscow, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and the Charles Shyer Project.