Thailand’s Major Cineplex to accept cryptocurrency

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Asia / Pacific Roundabout

Thailand’s leading cinema chain Major Cineplex Group announced that it will become the country’s first operator to accept cryptocurrency payments from moviegoers.

The company said it expects to be ready to kick off cryptocurrency payments by the end of this year, which would then allow film fans to purchase movie tickets as well as popcorn and other snacks and soft drinks at its outlets.

The move became possible after Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission introduced its Cryptocurrency Act in July, which effectively permits trading in seven different cryptocurrencies: BTC, ETH, BCH, ETC, LTC, XRP and XLM.

In order to pay in cryptocurrency, Major Cineplex customers will have to use the government-approved and regulated online payment service “RapidzPay,” which utilizes highly scalable blockchain technology and a decentralized model with the aim of catering to all local and international e-commerce platforms.

China Blocks Christopher Robin Release

Chinese authorities have apparently blocked the release of Walt Disney Pictures’ live-action Winnie the Pooh film, Christopher Robin, according to local media. The film, starring Ewan McGregor as a grownup Christopher Robin reuniting with his childhood friend Pooh, was originally scheduled to debut in the country in early August.

While authorities have given no reason for denying the release, Chinese media have speculated that it might be connected to an ongoing nationwide clampdown on all references to the classic Winnie the Pooh character created by children’s-book author A.A. Milne.

In 2013 a press photo of China’s president Xi Jinpeng walking alongside then-U.S. president Barack Obama was juxtaposed in the social media with an image of Pooh taking a stroll with Tigger. A year later, similar posts appeared of Xi Jinpeng and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who were being compared to Pooh and Eeyore, respectively. Then, in 2015, a photo showing Xi Jinpeng in a motorcade was accompanied by an image of Pooh sitting in a toy car.

As the memes rapidly grew in popularity as an obvious expression of political dissent, Chinese authorities began to systematically block or delete images and even mere mentions of the cartoon character from posts across all social-media platforms.

Meanwhile, British comedian John Oliver—himself having earned persona-non-grata status in China for his frequent sarcastic remarks about the country’s regime—in June roasted Xi Jinpeng on his U.S. talk show “Last Week Tonight,” criticizing the Chinese leader for his alleged sensitivity to being compared to Pooh. The respective “Last Week Tonight” episode was promptly blocked in China.

According to a report carried by BBC News, political analysis company Global Risk Insights has suggested that the heavy-handed censorship may be taking place because the comparisons of Pooh with Xi Jinpeng are seen by the Chinese government as “a serious effort to undermine the dignity of the presidential office and Xi himself."

But Christopher Robin is not the only Disney offering that has been denied a release in China, as earlier this year the studio’s adventure fantasy film A Wrinkle in Time likewise wasn’t permitted to make it to Chinese theatre screens.

However, the release dates in China of other movies produced or co-produced by Disney have not been affected.

Singapore Film Bags Golden Leopard at Locarno

Although Singapore maintains a surprisingly prolific movie industry, films produced in the tiny Southeast Asian city-state remain largely unknown internationally, despite their often rather excellent production values and creative storylines.

But A Land Imagined, co-produced by Akanga Film Asia (Singapore), mm2 Entertainment (Singapore), Films de Force Majeure (France) and Volya Films (The Netherlands), might finally have helped the country to break that spell.

Directed by Yeo Siew Hua, the mystery thriller in the best tradition of film noir has won the prestigious Golden Leopard trophy at the recent 71st Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, awarded by the International Competition jury presided over by acclaimed Chinese director Jia Zhang-ke. It is the first time a Singaporean film has bagged the festival’s top award.

A Land Imagined, which also celebrated its world premiere at Locarno, additionally won the Junior Jury Awards’ first prize for director Yeo Siew Hua, received a special mention from the Ecumenical Jury and earned its lead actress Luna Kwok the Boccalino d'Oro Award for best actress. The film’s international sales rights have reportedly been secured by U.S.-based Visit Films.

A Land Imaginedtells the story of foreign migrant worker Wang, who suffers a debilitating work injury and is afraid of deportation. Unable to sleep, he frequents a dreamy cybercafé where he forms a virtual friendship with a mysterious gamer that takes a sinister turn.

When Wang suddenly disappears, police inspector Lok is assigned to locate him. Lok’s investigations eventually lead him to a land-reclamation site where he finally uncovers the truth behind Wang’s disappearance.

The film’s producer and founder of Akanga Film Asia, Fran Borgia, said: “To be awarded the top prize at Locarno is one of our wildest dreams come true. A Land Imagined’s win is the first-ever top prize for a Singapore film at [any] A-list festival, and it also is a win for the next generation of Singaporean and Southeast Asian filmmakers.”

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