Thailand's Major Cineplex launches 'Movie on Demand'

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Asia / Pacific Roundabout

Thailand’s leading cinema chain, Major Cineplex Group Plc Co., Ltd., recently launched a new marketing tool aimed at a specific audience demographic that would like to re-watch movies after their regular release windows have expired.

Using a dedicated website, audiences are able to vote for movies from the past that they would like to watch on the big screen again. This “Movie on Demand” initiative is the first of its kind in Thailand and according to marketing director Narute Jiensnong is expected to not only increase customer numbers overall but also support sales revenues of selected cinema venues within the chain as moviegoers can also cast votes at which particular branch they’d like to see their favorite movie.

”Our ‘Movie on Demand’ initiative is a truly new alternative for movie lovers and a first for Thailand,” he said. “Customers can vote for the movie [title] as well as the [particular] branch, the screening date and showtime. Once the number of votes reaches 100 for any given film, it will re-play at the respective branch.”

For now, audiences can vote for movies grouped into five categories: Award-Winning Movies, Recommended Movies, Hollywood Movies, Thai Movies and Asian Movies (which includes Japanese, Korean and Chinese films). In the future, the operator plans to add further categories to cover all customer demands, such as Documentaries, Concerts, Anime and Classic Movies.

The “Movie on Demand” option is currently available for 17 selected Major Cineplex outlets in the capital Bangkok, as well as seven more venues in the country’s far-flung provinces. Major Cineplex Group presently operates 135 multiplexes across Thailand, of which 41 comprising 333 cinemas and 75,522 seats are located in Bangkok and its suburbs, while 94 venues comprising 367 cinemas and 83,735 seats are situated in the provinces.

The company also runs four outlets (24 cinemas) in Cambodia and two outlets (nine cinemas) in Laos. Most recently, the company inaugurated Cambodia’s very first IMAX theatre in the capital Phnom Penh. In Laos, Major Cineplex Group claims a market share of 100% as it is considered the sole provider in the cinema chain segment, although there still are numerous larger or smaller standalone theatres scattered around the country.

CGV Vietnam Reports Rapid Growth

South Korean entertainment company and cinema chain operator CJ CGV reported rapid growth for its Vietnamese subsidiary, CGV Vietnam. Local outlets attracted ten million local moviegoers in the first half of 2018.

“On June 29th, CGV Vietnam has reached ten million customers. It is the fastest [growing] rate since entering the Vietnamese market in 2011,” mother company CJ CGV announced in a press release.

The domestic milestone of ten million viewers was for the first time attained in December 2015, then once again in September 2016, and subsequently in August 2017. However, this year it took the operator only six months to reach that benchmark figure, effectively tripling audience attendance compared to three years ago.

In the first half of 2015, CGV Vietnam reported accumulative revenue of $65.6 million across its 30 venues nationwide. Since then, the company has raised its number of theatres to 57, which may help explain the sharp increase in audience numbers in the first half of 2018. CGV Vietnam anticipates that it will earn about $168.4 million in ticket sales by the end of the year, when the number of theatres will have risen to a total of 70.

 

‘China's Costliest Film’ Unexpectedly Pulled from Cinemas

Promoted as “China’s most expensive movie of all time” and reportedly burning a budget exceeding CNY750 million ($111 mil.), fantasy epic Asura was unexpectedly pulled from local cinemas on July 15, only three days after its release.The film had only earned about CNY50 million ($7.5 mil.) over its opening weekend.

Production companies Zhenjian Film Studio and Ningxia Film Group reportedly apologized to investors and audiences. The film’s official webpage said the decision to the pull the picture was made “by all investors,” although no clear reason was given.

However, the producers subsequently told online media company Sina.com that Asura had been withdrawn “for reasons that were beyond control." They also indicated that "unfair market competition" might be to blame, insinuating that Asura had been deliberately underrated on important movie-rating websites. On Maoyan.com it scored only 4.9 out of a possible 10 points, and Douban.com rated it at an even lower 3.1 out of 10 points.

Movie fans’ comments on Douban sometimes were rather abrasive, too. "The film has missed its era.If it [had been] released three years ago [and] before Chinese audiences formed their own aesthetic standards, it [could have] cheated a good share of box office [revenue] out of them," wrote Douban user “Commander of All Regiments.”

Meanwhile, user “Film Detoxifying Room” commented with a brief but to-the-point “[Asura] sucks in a mediocre way.”

Independent film critics posting on China’s most popular social-media platform Sina Weibo joined in the scorn as well.Local author and critic Ma Boyong described Asura as "a well-designed bad film," adding that "from the costumes to the settings, the film has combined the ugly sides of different design styles.” Ma also cited his designer friend who had apparently joined him for the screening as saying, "It was an occupational injury for me to come with you to watch the film."

Chiming in, another film critic, @Kingoffilms, wrote in his own post: "I could see [that] the producers must have spent a fortune on the film’s special effects, but all these efforts only boasted of ‘Look, I am rich.’”

Its cast comprising some of the most popular names in Chinese cinema, including multiple award winners like actor Leung Ka-fai and actress Carina Lau, Asura is based on Buddhist mythology and originally was supposed to be the first installment of a trilogy. But with its unexpected failure, that future is now highly in question.

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