Cine Colombia has become the first major exhibitor in Latin America to go all digital, and William Torres is at the center of the process.

The move is a sign of the burgeoning Colombian economy, which has been boosted by huge improvements in security, foreign investments and consumer confidence. But the digital move is also a testament to the financial clout of Cine Colombia parent Grupo Santo Domingo, a family-owned conglom with stakes in more than 100 companies, including breweries, TV and radio stations, print media, real estate and oil.

Torres has been at the forefront of the 85-year-old company's exhibition growth, traveling throughout the country to oversee Cine Colombia's multiplex construction in malls that are mushrooming in big cities.

Cine Colombia prexy Munir Falah notes that the company is among only three circuits in Latin America that have been able to directly secure virtual print fee agreements with the Hollywood majors.

The exhib-distrib has been spearheading Colombia's growth in exhibition, which is up 94% over the past seven years, from 9.7 million admissions in 2005 to 18.7 million in 2012, says Torres. Cine Colombia enjoys a 46% share in overall admissions and 48% share in box office. It has a 50% share of the distribution market.

The key, Torres notes, are premium tickets. "3D movies have driven exhibition growth in Colombia, contributing some 35% to total box office earnings," he says.

Now operating 248 screens in 37 theaters, Cine Colombia has closed deals for the construction of 70 more screens in the next two years. Although there is room for growth in Colombia, the company plans to open screens in other Latin American territories.

"We're looking at either buying existing circuits or building from the ground up," says Torres .

For all the innovation and progress, it all boils down to product, Torres says. "The quality of films in recent years has been a key factor in driving multiplex growth," he notes.


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