Thailand's Major Cineplex looks to India

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Thailand's largest exhibitor, Major Cineplex Group, is exploring new market opportunities for entertainment complexes in India, according to Somkit Tantadvanichkul, CEO of Major Cineplex Property Co, a subsidiary of Major Cineplex Group. Tantadvanichkul maintains that many Indian real estate firms have approached the company with land offers.

Major has already expanded its bowling business to India. A joint venture with PVR, the first 24-lane bowling outlet opens in April 2009. The company plans to spend at least US$28.6 million to open another 19 bowling outlets in India over the next three years.
Tantadvanichkul says that India is very attractive for investing in entertainment-related business. Major is considering opening entertainment centers similar to Major Cineplex standalone complexes in Thailand, he reveals.

"India has many multiplex theatres in retail centers, but few standalone cinema complexes, and they are unlike those in Thailand. The movie industry in India is also huge, with several thousand movies shown every year, worth over US$286 million," he notes.

Tantadvanichkul says the company is interested in developing entertainment complexes in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad. He also describes Major's desire to build new projects in Bangkok, although retail complexes or multiples over 10,000 square meters are prohibited in the city under Bangkok's City Plan.

''If the Bangkok government relaxes this condition, there would be more opportunities to invest and it would be good for the country's economy'' he opines.

GDC Deploys in China
GDC Technology is moving its product forward again. The company recently won a contract to deploy 100 digital-cinema projection systems in Mainland China for the China Film Group Corporation (CFGC). The DCI-2000 Digital Cinema Integrated Projection System, which consists of GDC’s SA-2100 Digital Cinema Server and Barco’s DLP Cinema® Projector, will be used in the deployment.

“We have a long history of working with GDC dated back to 2002,” said Han Sanping, chairman and CEO of CFGC. “We are more than satisfied with the reliable performance of the 700 GDC servers that are already installed in cinemas. This new contract is just another show of our confidence in GDC as our trusted partner for digital rollout in China.”

Thailand Announces Ratings System
It was bound to happen: Thailand's Ministry of Culture will begin enforcing Thailand's first film ratings system beginning in May 2009.

"We should be able to enforce the regulations from May onward," Culture Minister Teera Slukpetch said in an interview with the Nation newspaper. "The system will have seven categories, rather than the more usual five used elsewhere. The two extra groups are for films that should be promoted on merits of cultures, arts or traditions, and films that should be banned for containing inappropriate content," Slukpetch said.

Among pics banned from Thai screens will be those that authorities believe offend the monarchy, threaten national security or national unity, insult religion, disrespect "honorable figures," challenge morals or contain explicit sex scenes.

The five other categories are similar to those used in rating systems elsewhere, including for general audiences, ages 13, 18, and restricted.

But the real question is how this will affect box-office. It will not. Like other laws in Thailand, after a period of implementation, the new regulations will likely be "overlooked.” If past experience is any indicator, the government will only use the law in cases where a point is to be made, and theatres told to implement the regulations will be more concerned with filling seats then asking for ID cards.

Phuket Fest Spotlights Taiwan
The second edition of the Phuket Film Festival, to be held June 4–11 at the international tourist destination of Phuket, Thailand, will feature a Spotlight on Taiwanese Film.

Taiwanese 2009 Academy Award Foreign-Language submission Cape #7 will top the lineup of award-winning films from the island nation. Supporting the films will be a delegation of directors, producers and actors and actresses coming into the Festival from Taiwan.
In recent years, a Korean culture wave of entertainment has swept across Asia. Close behind, however, is a new wave of Taiwanese "stars" turning out TV soaps and feature films that are winning awards at international film festivals.

The Taiwanese Embassy in Thailand will throw a gala reception at the Festival for the visiting delegation and other Festival VIPs on June 5.

Thailand Launches Comedy Fest
Speaking of festivals, the Tourism Authority of Thailand is moving forward with a new World Comedy Festival to be held in Bangkok in April 2009. The idea behind the event is to get people's minds off the economy and, most of all, off the recent political problems Thailand has had, including the closure of Bangkok's airports.

The Festival announced that it will screen 50 comedies from around the world.
No editorial comment offered here except: When was the last time you went to a foreign-language comedy and laughed at dialogue presented to you in subtitles? Oh, Charlie Chaplin, where are you when we need you?

Contact Asia-Pacific bureau chief Scott Rosenberg with your news items at (662) 982-4525, by fax at (662) 982-4526, or by e-mail at scott.rosenberg@gmail.com.