Thailand's Goldenduck surfaces as major cinema technology company

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I know my Bangkok flood-induced PTSD sometimes has me staring into space for minutes at a time, but when I recently had the opportunity to spend time with Goldenduck’s Sittiporn Srisanguansakul, I felt like Rip Van Wrinkle waking from a sleep of 20 years.

I first met Sittiporn around 1994 to ’95. He was the guy to go to in Thailand for installation of Dolby and DTS sound systems for Bangkok’s new multiplex cinemas. That’s not even mentioning screens, high-tech cinema projectors and, more recently, advanced digital equipment.

As time went on, I saw Sittiporn at various shows and markets where we hardly ever chatted about his business, but I did know his team was very much involved with the technical side of CineAsia when it was held in Thailand at the turn of the millennium.

What I didn’t realize was that Sittiporn’s Goldenduck was a family business that had started back in the 1980s—his uncle launched the company as a distributor for Hong Kong-based Shaw Brothers, and Sittiporn’s dad expanded the Thai side of the business with equipment installations. In fact, the name Goldenduck comes from his father’s nickname “Duck,” and what person doesn’t like “gold,” a symbol of wealth?

Sittiporn literally graduated into the business after finishing university. And now, some 30-plus years later, his technical team, which I remember as a handful of techie types, has become the Goldenduck Group—several integrated companies with over 200 employees and offices located in five different Southeast Asian countries (Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam), providing integrated cinema technical services to more than 1,000 screens across the region. Where have I been?

Several years ago (2003, to be exact), Goldenduck Steel was formed to supply some of their vendors with products tailored to customer needs and requirements.

Also of great surprise to me was the fact that Goldenduck has been doing digital encoding of Thai films since 2008, when they encoded Chocolate (also known as Zen, Warrior Within), distributed by Sahamongkol Films.

Goldenduck has also set up a DCP hard-disk mastering service which presently services only Thailand, but it will not be long before its customer base includes the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.

Sittiporn said to watch for an announcement from the Group later this year regarding diversification into TV sound (they have already handled the retrofit of Thailand’s variety show “Academia Fantasia” with Dolby 5.1 sound) and also news about Thailand’s virtual-print-fee deals.

With their digital expertise, GoldenDuck has also entered non-cinema-related businesses like a 4D digital installation in a museum in Supan Buri, Thailand, and the Dreamwold Amusement Park in Bangkok.

I asked Sittiporn, “Where have I been during your expansion?” He responded, “Look, people always thought Goldenduck is Sittiporn and Sittiporn is Goldenduck. What they did not realize is Goldenduck is not just Sittiporn, it is a whole team of people whose professionalism helped the Group move into related technical areas.”

To that end, last year Goldenduck began operation of the projection booths at the number-one exhibitor in Thailand, Major Cineplex Group. “Since Major was buying their cinema equipment from Goldenduck, it was easy for Vicha Poolvaraluck, CEO of Major Group, to say to us, ‘Look, you know the equipment, you do your job and run the equipment and we’ll do our job of running the front end of the cinemas. That’s what we both do best,’” Sittiporn commented.

Asleep for 20 years or not, talking with Sittiporn has taught me a lesson: Keep my eyes and ears open and I’ll be writing about the industry here in Asia for the next 50 years.

Golden Screen Marks 25 Years
Malaysia’s Golden Screen Cinema kicked off its 25th anniversary celebrations on Feb. 2 with a dinner and preview screenings of The Viral Factor and the Meryl Streep starrer The Iron Lady for local media at the GSC Signature, Garden Mall Mid Valley.

The celebration will include addition of eight new cinema locations (to its current 23 locations), for a total of 71 screens. The new cinemas will include the GSC Setia City Mall in Shah Alam (opening in May), the nine-screen GSC Paradigm Mall in Kelana Jaya (also in May), the 10-screen GSC City One Mall in Kuching (third quarter 2012), the 10-screen GSC Palm Mall in Seremban (fourth quarter 2012), the eight-screen Amanjaya Mall in Sungai Petani (fourth quarter 2012) and the 11-screen GSC Nu Sentra KL (also opening in the fourth quarter).

Contact Scott Rosenberg with relevant news stories at prdivision@gmail.com. You may also follow him on Twitter @scott_cos or on Facebook: D Scott Rosenberg.