Magazine article Variety

Mars Needs Multiplexes

Magazine article Variety

Mars Needs Multiplexes

Article excerpt

Turkey's top exhib plans for rapid growth and 3D expansion


THOUGH TURKEY spans Europe, Asia and the Middle East, the vast country is considered Europe's most rapidly growing moviegoing market, a clear indication of its ongoing modernization - which Mars Entertainment Group is embracing, having become the top local exhibitor in just over a decade.

Founded in 2001 by Muzaffer Yildirim, a former exec in the country's booming tourism industry, Mars has been driving the expanding Turkish exhibition sector, which still has the potential to grow fourfold and become "a billion-dollar cinema market once the number of screens, now only about 2,000, (grows) in the right places," according to IHS Screen Digest chief film analyst David Hancock.

Over the past decade, Mars has built more than 500 state-of-the-art screens in 24 cities, operating them under the Cinemaximum brand. They account for 52% of Turkey's total box office.

"Within the next 2V% years we plan to build 27 new multiplexes and will reach 750 Cinemaximum screens," Yildirim tells Variety.

And he plans to have more than 1,000 screens by 2017.

No wonder Yildirim has been named CineEurope's international exhibitor of the year. He will be honored at the CineEurope award luncheon June 27 in Barcelona.

Box office in Turkey reached a high in 2012, thanks to a 3.8% growth to 43.9 million admissions and $234.2 million in grosses. But movie theater visits per person are still low, at 0.6, compared with 2.7 in the U.K. and 3 in France.

Not surprisingly, current tensions sparked by Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's use of force to try to replace a central Istanbul park with a shopping mall are taking their toll. Since the start of demonstrations, cinema attendance has dropped by around 70%, Yildirim told Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News. The country's large youth demographic has clearly been more concerned with turning out for protests than for Star Trek Into Darkness on Imax 3D screens in Mars venues in Ankara or Istanbul.

Local movies account for a whopping 46% national market share in Turkey where the box office champ in 2012 was Fetih 1453, a turbans and testosterone epic about the capture of Constantinople in the 15th century by Ottoman Turks.

The top Hollywood title in Turkey last year was Ice Age: Continental Drift, which came in at No. 3 overall, and at No. 4 in the 3D version, attesting to the power of 3D in Turkey, according to Yildirim.

Lately Mars has started investing in Turkish film production and developing projects by young local helmers, as well as sponsoring the Istanbul Intl. …

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