Following its managementbuyout earlier this week, UK exhibitor VueEntertainment is aiming to open as many as 20 cinemas over the next threeyears. "We are continuing with a very aggressive expansion programme in the UK," Tim Richards, CEO of Vue,told

The new cinemas will be ineither greenfield sites or will be replacements of old cinemas. Vue currently owns 55 cinemas with 544 screens - representingmore than 20% of the British market.

Richards believes that Vue is now ideally placed to ride the crest of the newdigital wave in film exhibition. The exhibitor is already increasing thevariety of programming it offers as well as providing "3D and alternativecontent." This month, for example, Vue has beenscreening England's World Cup football games. "We didn't charge for itbecause I want to show the consumer that there is this absolute fantasticfacility with wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling screens, digital can go into the cinema with a beer and popcorn and watch a game inan extraordinary situation."

Meanwhile, Vue is testing new concepts, among them "trailer parks"(comfortable seating areas where customers can have a drink and watch trailersbefore a movie) and a "speed bar," where customers will be able to self-servethemselves drinks.

The exhibitor is alsotailoring its wares, whether movies or concession sales, for spectators fromdifferent age groups and ethnic backgrounds. In locations where there is "apredominantly young segment of the population," the local Vuewill have a "younger look and feel than other cinemas where there is an olderdemographic."

"What we have learned isthat you cannot block book a circuit. You cannot treat a circuit as a singleentity. You have to look at every cinema on its own," Richards said.

He added that the $640m(£350m) buyout in partnership with Bank of Scotland Corporate will allow Vue greater flexibility in its long-term planning.

"We are at a stage in ourlife where we can stand on our own and be a lot more agile going forward,"Richards commented.