July 02, 2014 00:00 By Watchiranont Thongtep
After premiering its first high-end Bt150-million cinema in Phnom Penh this week, Major Cineplex Group, Thailand's largest movie-theatre chain, will continue to invest with its partners in 100 cinemas in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar by 2020.
“Because of high purchasing power and urbanisation in Cambodia’s capital, we believe that there is plenty of room to grow to 100 cinemas in five years, from 18 cinemas now,” chairman Vicha Poolvaraluck said yesterday.
Major Cineplex and its local partner Platinum Cineplex are earmarking Bt500 million for 50 cinemas in Phnom Penh in five years to serve increasing demand from about 4 million residents and expatriates in this growing city.
The group is also eyeing Siem Reap, a world-famous destination in Cambodia welcoming more than 4 million tourists a year.
The expansion in Cambodia is driven by a 70:30 joint venture of Major Cineplex and Platinum Cineplex.
Through this cornerstone partnership, Major Cineplex will jump into Laos and Myanmar in the near future, Vicha said.
Indonesian tycoon Raam Punjabi, owner of Platinum Cineplex, said that under this partnership, its first cinema with five screens would open at the Vientiane Centre shopping mall in Xaysettha district of Laos by the end of this year. The theatre at this high-profile shopping mall will cost about Bt100 million.
“We are also in talks with a business partner in Myanmar to open a theatre next year – Punjabi, who is renowned as ‘Indonesia’s king of soap opera and cinema’,” he said.
Punjabi is president-director of Jakarta-based Multivision Plus, a leading film and TV production house.
On Monday, the joint venture opened its first flagship movie theatre at Aeon Mall, a new high-profile shopping complex at the heart of the commercial district of Phnom Penh.
Major Cineplex by Cellcard combines seven screens with 1,560 seats, including VIP, 2D, 3D and 4DX, and 13 bowling lanes for “Cellcard Blu-o”.
Cellcard, a major telecom, is a sponsor.
This partnership appears to reflect a win-win game between Thai and Cambodian cinema operators.
Vicha said the new cinema in Cambodia would be a key outlet in the bid to distribute Thai movies in this market.
“I would say that it is a game changer, as it will also offer more opportunity for Major’s film production houses including M39, Talent One and M Picture Entertainment, as it is able to select 24 Thai films to show at the new movie theatre.
“Thai movies are very popular among Cambodian moviegoers, after Hollywood films,” he said.
The new cinema will generate Bt150 million a year, while it already has created at least 50 jobs.
Chy Sila, director of Platinum Cineplex, said partnering with Major could help and improve his company’s strategy.
“The coming branches under the Major Cineplex brand will attract high-end spenders while Platinum Cineplex will turn to focus more on middle-income earners,” he said.
By year-end, his company is looking for four to five more locations, particularly at neighbourhood malls, either in second- or third-tier provinces. Each location will combine three to four screens.