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Turkmenistan's 3-D Cinema Falls Flat With Customers

Turkmenistan -- "Ashgabat" cinema house in Turkmen capital Ashgabat, 24Jun2011
ASHGABAT -- Turkmenistan's first and only 3-D movie theater has fallen flat with audiences apparently tired of its one-dimensional film offerings, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports.

The multimillion-dollar cinema has been showing only one film, "Turkmenistan the Heavenly Land," since it opened in central Ashgabat about six months ago.

"Perhaps people got tired of the film," said a cinema employee who didn't want to give his name. "Most of our customers are not interested in the film, they just come to see the movie house itself."

He said the theater needed at least five customers to show the movie, but most of the time the number of visitors didn't reach five and the showing was canceled.

"It reaches up to 10-15 people [total] on weekends," he added.

Turkmenistan reportedly spent $20 million to build its first modern cinema, which was constructed by France's Vinci group. Along with a separate 70-seat 3-D screening room, the cinema also has an ordinary movie theater with 430 seats.

President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov opened the cinema on his birthday.
President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov opened the cinema on his birthday.
The marble-and-glass building on Ashgabat's central Makhtumquli Avenue was financed by the state-owned Turkmenneftegazstroi, a company that controls major construction projects in Turkmenistan's oil and gas sector.

The cinema was inaugurated by President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov on June 29, 2011, which coincided with the president's 54th birthday.

Apart from the 3-D cinema, there are two other ordinary cinema theaters in Ashgabat, called Watan and Turkmenistan, which mainly show Indian and Soviet-era Turkmen movies.

Movie theaters are not particularly popular in Turkmenistan, mostly due to their poor catalogue of films. Many Turkmen say the same films are frequently shown by state television channels.

Read more in Turkmen here