U.K. entertainment retailer HMV plans to screen live concerts from its own venues at its new hmvcurzon cinema in Wimbledon, south London.

The impressive, three-screen cinema above the existing Wimbledon store is a partnership with Curzon Artificial Eye, the independent film distributor that also operates five Curzon cinemas in London.

The hmvcurzon was unveiled to media today (Oct. 21) ahead of its public opening on Friday (Oct. 23). It has the latest digital technology and will offer a more mainstream program than the independent feature films that are show at Curzon's cinemas, as well as a selection of world cinema.

"It's a joint partnership - Curzon are responsible for the programming and cinema expertise, and we are obviously responsible for running the store," HMV Group chief executive Simon Fox tells Billboard.biz. "It's very much a partnership."

The satellite connection allows for cinecasting and, in December, hmvcurzon will show live opera from La Scala Theatre in Milan and Teatro del Liceu in Barcelona, as well as pre-recorded opera and there are plans for live theater. Fox says they are interested in pop, too, in the light of BBC Worldwide's record-breaking cinecast of Robbie Williams Oct. 21 Electric Proms concert. HMV owns various venues as part of its joint venture with Mama Group, including London's HMV Forum and HMV Apollo.

"We will definitely be doing that [cinecasting], we opened a little late for that [Robbie Williams]," says Fox. "But [we will] definitely [be] linking up with our own venues, that we own, and other venues and broadcasting music, sport."

Tickets priced £3 ($4.99) to £10 ($16.60) are available online, to be printed by the customer, and in-store; the cinema can be accessed via the store and will have its own entrance outside of store opening hours.

Philip Knatchbull, chief executive of Curzon Artificial Eye, says the new partnership "allows us to move more into the mainstream, and reach a larger audience but for a very varied program offering."

Fox hopes the hmvcurzon, which opens with "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus," "The Fantastic Mr. Fox" and "Up," will offer a "really interesting and different experience to the standard multiplex." No target number of openings has been revealed, but it could easily be launched in other stores before long.

"This is hopefully the start of a journey, you have to start somewhere, we've started here in Wimbledon," says Fox. "If it's successful it could be a very significant business for both of us over the next few years. We hope that is the start of something significant."

Although the investment was not revealed, Knatchbull says it was "a lot less than it would have been a few years ago, because digital technology is dropping in cost."

Ultimately, of course, Fox hopes the retail business can benefit from the move into cinema. "I think what this cinema does is it adds a whole new dimension to the store," says Fox. "What we are doing is moving from being a retail store to an entertainment destination for the people of Wimbledon. The cinema drives footfall and footfall drives sales."

There will also be merchandising near the cinema itself, such as soundtrack CDs, posters and DVDs of "Twilight" during the run for the sequel "New Moon."

"We are also merchandising on this second floor DVDs that will be relevant to the films that people have seen," explains Fox. "The tie-up between the programming and the product will evolve over time but that's certainly the intention."

The movie industry has been ready to support the new concept, which offers an alternative to the multiplex. "When you are starting a new concept like this you have to have the relationship with the distributors," says Knatchbull. "That has obviously been helped for us by joining with HMV because they are such a big DVD seller that obviously the Hollywood studios want to support this alternative to the multiplexes."

HMV has such faith in the concept, it has completely transformed the store frontage to identify it as an hmvcurzon with a digital screen advertising the cinema releases.

"The store's been in Wimbledon for years so we think people know there is an HMV store here, but what they don't know is that there is an incredible three-screen cinema on the second floor," says Fox. "So that's the message we want to get across and we've got to use our high street frontage to get that message out."

A screening of "Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee" is taking place for invited guests tonight (Oct. 21) along with a Q&A with director Shane Meadows. But HMV customers were the first to visit the cinema: purehmv loyalty card holders were able to exchange their reward points for a free screening of "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus" on Oct. 17.