Casting a vote of confidence in the local market, international distribution giant United International Pictures is to go it alone in Poland. It will release films through a newly-created local arm.

Among the first UIP titles to go through the wholly-owned Polish subsidiary are The Mummy Returns, Shrek, Tomb Raider and Bridget Jones's Diary. The company, which handles theatrical releases from Universal, Paramount and DreamWorks, previously released films through UIP-ITI, a joint venture with ITI.

'Our decision to work through our own company in Poland reflects the confidence we have in the development of the market and its potential for further growth,' said Julian Stanford, UIP's senior vice-president European sales.

UIP, which operates in tandem with local distributors in many burgeoning markets, formed the joint-venture with ITI in 1997. The operation released films owned or controlled by both companies, including Gladiator, MI:2, American Beauty and Notting Hill.

ITI will theatrically distribute films in Poland through ITI Cinema, with future releases including Just Visiting, Captain Corelli's Mandolin and local production Silence (Cisza). 'We are setting the focus of our activities on the distribution of independent motion pictures and Polish productions,' said Marek Trojak, president of ITI Cinema. 'We believe that the current theatrical growth will continue and both parties will be able to focus on their individual distribution strengths.'