First Samsung Cinema LED screen opens in China

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Asia / Pacific Roundabout

While the Cinematic LED Screen developed by South Korea’s Samsung Electronics debuted at home last year, being installed in two Lotte Cinema venues in Seoul and Busan, the revolutionary technology has now also been adopted in neighboring China for the first time. “On February 4th, Samsung Electronics and our partner Wanda Cinemas, the world’s largest theatre operator, celebrated the launching of the Cinema LED Screen in Wanda’s Wujiaochang theatre, located in Shanghai’s Yangpu District,” the high-end electronics firm announced in a press release.The LED screen in Shanghai measures 10.3 meters by 4.5 meters, with a 4K resolution (4,096 × 2,160) and HDR (high dynamic range) display. Its peak brightness level is nearly 10 times greater than that of typical cinema standards and the screen minimizes color distortion.Meanwhile, Wanda Cinemas has already revealed a plan to convert a second cinema in China’s capital Beijing during the first half of this year.

…and Soon in Thailand and Switzerland, Too

Both Thailand and Switzerland are soon to become the next two countries to introduce the technology as well. Announced in December last year, a Samsung Cinema LED Screen-equipped theatre will “sometime in spring” be opened by Swiss multiplex operator Arena Cinemas in Zurich. Meanwhile, Thailand’s leading operator Major Cineplex Group is gearing up to treat its first audience to a Samsung LED Screen experience at Bangkok’s posh Siam Paragon shopping mall in March.

Although the agreement-signing ceremony with Samsung Electronics already took place in Bangkok in November and opening the screen was originally planned for February, Major Cineplex had to push back the date due to a delivery delay of the sound system needed. “We had to change [our] current sound system from Dolby Atmos to Harman, as this is [currently] the only sound system compatible with the Samsung LED screen,” Narute Jiensnong, Major Cineplex’s director of international business, told FJI.”The delay is due in part that we have tried to work out with Dolby to be part of Samsung LED Screen. Those negotiations eventually turned out futile, so we had to order from Harman and the shipment from the U.S. arrived quite late. We are now looking at a tentative opening date of early to mid-March,” he said.

Korea’s CJ E&M Grabs 31% Share in Turkey

Although having established itself in Turkey through its local venture CJ Entertainment Turkey only in May last year, South Korea’s CJ E&M has already risen to become a key player in the country’s film exhibition industry. During the winter season from October to January, CJ Entertainment Turkey has grown quickly, capturing just short of one-third of all theatre ticket sales in Turkey during that period. According to a statement released by Korea’s regulatory body KOFIC, CJ Enteråtainment Turkey released its first film on Oct. 30 and since then has released four additional movies. The five titles, which were all financed, produced and distributed by CJ E&M, have to date sold a combined 8.86 million tickets in Turkey, representing a market share of 31%.

“CJ Entertainment Turkey achieving a 31% market share is impressive considering that winter is Turkey’s most competitive season for film releases. It is estimated that 70% of [the country’s] total annual movie audience is driven by the winter peak season, which lasts from October to April,” the statement said. Of the five CJ E&M titles released so far, two have even landed in the all-time top ten list for domestic ticket sales in Turkey.

CJ Entertainment Turkey is already making plans for the current year with a road map that includes teaming up with BKM, Turkey’s largest film studio, as well as investing in and distributing ten locally produced films by the end of 2018. Additionally, the company is in talks to produce Turkish versions of hit Korean films such as The Spy: Undercover Operation (2013) and Miss Granny (2014). In 2017, CJ E&M also purchased Mars Entertainment Group, which operates Turkey's largest cinema chain, boasting 736 screens at 83 locations across 28 cities. CJ E&M has made no secret of its plans for aggressive global expansion. Already the largest film distributor and exhibitor in South Korea, the company has worked to expand its international footprint and currently operates studios or theatre chains in several territories including China, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Russia.

Springtime for Chinese Box Office

The just wrapped seven-day Chinese New Year, China’s most important national holiday period, has brought a new box-office record, raking in around CNY5.7 billion ($902.6 bil.) in six days. This represented an impressive 67 percent increase over last year's festival season, which had grossed about CNY3.38 billion. Theatres across the country accommodated an estimated 140 million viewers since the second day of the official New Year. The first day, also known as Spring Festival Day, was not taken into account, as traditionally no blockbusters open on it because Chinese families generally stay home preparing for the New Year festivities.

Director Raman Hui's family-oriented fantasy film Monster Hunt 2 was the most anticipated picture, breaking presale records and earning more than CNY300 million (US$47.25 million). It also owned its opening day on Feb. 16, smashing previous single-day records with total box-office takings of CNY540 million. The runner-up, director Chen Sicheng's sleuth comedy Detective Chinatown 2, grossed CNY337 million that day while two other highly anticipated blockbusters, Cheang Pousoi's The Monkey King 3 and Dante Lam's Operation Red Sea, earned CNY162 million and CNY128 million, respectively.

For feedback and inquiries, contact Thomas Schmid at thomas.schmid@filmjournal.com.