Major Cineplex’s Quartier CineArt is the latest luxury Thai theatre

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Asia / Pacific Roundabout

While visionary and progressive operators such as Major Cineplex Group Thailand—particularly in the capital Bangkok—can boast some of poshest and most comfortable movie theatres on the globe, it seems there is still always room for improvement. Major Cineplex Group’s latest venue, Quartier CineArt, opened in early April in the newly built high-end EmQuartier shopping mall along one of Bangkok’s main thoroughfares, Sukhumvit Road. Its eight screens accommodate a maximum of 1,440 moviegoers and are equipped with arguably the world’s finest cinema seats—manufactured by Spanish firm Figueras—to provide the luxurious pampering that has become synonymous with Major Cineplex Group venues.

Quartier CineArt also deploys state-of-the-art screening technology such as crisp and clear laser projection throughout. Furthermore, it contains Thailand’s (and indeed Southeast Asia’s) very first ScreenX theatre, a rather futuristic technology developed by South Korea’s CJ Group, which uses innovative multi-projection in a three-screen configuration at the front and the two side walls of an auditorium, delivering a mind-blowingly vivid 270-degree viewing experience. ScreenX is currently installed in a number of locations in South Korea, and was introduced to the worldwide exhibition community at the recent CinemaCon in Las Vegas. However, since actual movies produced in this new format are still lacking—some might even say they’re nonexistent—Quartier CineArt showcases it at the moment only through demo clips and ads

“But we see this as a big step into the future, which is why we decided to dedicate one of the theatres at our new venue to ScreenX,” explained Jim Patterson, Major Cineplex Group’s director of business development. He added that the South Korean company apparently plans to release at least two ScreenX-enabled feature movies this year, one of them a South Korean production.

As Major Cineplex Group’s most sophisticated and technologically advanced theatre complex, Quartier CineArt has been designated as the operator’s new flagship venue, effectively unseating the company’s Paragon Cineplex. “Even Quartier CineArt’s IMAX theatre is better than anything that I have ever seen, whether within our own group or elsewhere,” asserted Patterson.

In a related development, Major Cineplex Group projects to have a total of 600 screens running in Thailand by the end of this year, up from currently 527 nationwide. Of these, 296 are in Bangkok (31 branches) and 224 (46 branches) are in other parts of the country. The company also operates a seven-screen venue in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh. According to CEO Vicha Poolvaraluck, the group has earmarked a budget of THB1.5 billion ($46.9 mil.) for this business expansion.

China’s Heyi Pictures Signs Six IP & Cross-Screen Deals

Chinese production company Heyi Pictures, the moviemaking division of Youku Tudou, announced the signing of six strategic partnerships to bring quality IPs (intellectual properties) from across domains to the silver screen, expand the IP incubation process with capable partners, advance Heyi’s moviemaking capabilities and increase their joint audience base and monetization opportunities. The partnerships involve two IP providers, Mopian and Readers Publishing & Media, IP incubation partner BlueVision Media, as well as three cross-screen partners, CCTV-6, AirMedia and Fundamental Films.

“Chinese movie audiences are calling for more quality titles, while the Chinese movie business demands a larger and continuous flow of new IPs. By working with prominent partners across different domains, Heyi Pictures is building an open platform to develop stronger IPs across multiple screens to bring to these audiences,” said Allen Zhu, senior VP of Youku Tudou and CEO of Heyi Pictures.

Under the terms of one of the agreements, Heyi Pictures will become Mopian’s exclusive Internet partner to develop its IPs into feature movies. As China’s leading publisher of e-novels, Mopian currently owns more than a dozen popular IPs and has an accumulated readership of over 300 million. The first batch of titles to be incubated into films will include Unlimited TerrorA Tale of the Dragon and Snake, and Yang God, which has been hailed as one of the top four Internet-distributed fantasy tales in China.

Meanwhile, Readers Publishing & Media, a domestic media conglomerate with eight subsidiary publishing houses, 13 magazine publications and a slew of digital and outdoor media platforms, will provide Heyi Pictures with selected titles from the expansive library it has built over the past 30 years, so they can be incubated into movies. The process will be helped by BlueVision Media, a firm reputed for its movie development capabilities, expertise in film production, as well as a diverse and creative talent pool. “Heyi Pictures, BlueVision and Readers will complement each other in terms of brand recognition, platform availability, creative process, business operation and business channels and will work closely together to incubate popular IPs from Readers,” explained Zhu

Heyi Pictures also will collaborate with CCTV-6, AirMedia and Fundamental Films and leverage Youku Tudou, the parent company’s platform, to create the optimal movie distribution capability across multiple media. “These movies will use traditional cinema as well as TV and other media screens as distribution platforms to showcase and promote the artistic talents of China’s emerging directors,” said Zhu. While CCTV-6 is China’s national TV channel for movies, AirMedia is the country’s largest airline advertising platform, covering 90% of the digital air media market, and Fundamental Films is the largest operator of streaming and outdoor media for subways in China. Movies created for and distributed on these three firms’ platforms can apparently reach as many as two billion viewers.

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