UA plans deluxe cinema in Macau
Lots of news this month, so let’s get right down to it, beginning with exhibition: On July 21, The Lark Group’s UA Cinemas and Galaxy Macau announced the UA Galaxy Cinemas, due to open later in 2011 at the US$2 billion Galaxy Macau resort. The cinemas will occupy nearly 16,000 square meters, including a Grand Theatre with balcony boxes, four VIP houses and four traditional houses with over 1,000 comfortable theatre seats in total. All nine screens will be capable of showing 3D movies. In addition, a unique room will be built inside the Grand Theatre for the convenience of families with young children and the consideration of the moviegoing public.
Stanley Ko, chairman of Lark International Holdings Ltd. (operator of UA Cinemas and Studio City Cinemas), said, “As the premier cinema brand in Hong Kong, UA is very excited to open another first-class, deluxe UA Cinema that will offer the most immersive movie experience to Macau, Hong Kong and mainland China audiences. For this venture we partnered with Galaxy Macau because it is a major new attraction for visitors and locals that also puts significant emphasis on redefining Macau’s leisure and tourism scene. We believe UA Galaxy Cinemas will bring a new era of entertainment to Macau.”
The Lark Group was a forerunner of multiplexing in Hong Kong. Lark introduced UA Cinemas to Hong Kong in 1985 with the opening of UA Shatin, the region’s first-ever U.S.-style multiplex cinema.
UA operates nine cinemas with over 40 houses in prime Hong Kong locations. UA Langham Place has ranked as Hong Kong and China’s top cinema in terms of box office for five consecutive years.
INOX Expands 3D with Technicolor
We now wing across to India, where INOX Leisure Limited, India’s only multiplex chain with a pan-India presence—40 multiplexes with 151 screens in 26 cities across the continent—has installed approximately 70 Technicolor 3D lenses to date. Chief operating officer Daizy Lal commented, “The 3D scenario is changing pretty fast in India, with a number of 3D movies already released this year and many more lined up in the year ahead. With the help of Technicolor technology and its convenient and faster installation process, we have been able to take 3D movies to our patrons across the country. Keeping in mind the upsurge in demand for 3D movies, we at INOX hope to introduce and add many more 3D-enabled screens in days to come.”
Back in our home base of Thailand, there are now 35 Technicolor 3D installations: SF Cinema City with 11 screens, Coliseum with eight screens, Thana with 13 screens, and Nevada Ubon with three screens.
Bhutan Protests Awards Process
Shifting to the artistic end of the business, we scale the Himalayan Mountains to the tiny country of Bhutan, where the National Film Awards were given out back in May. Twenty-six films were up for various awards.
A few days after the event, a group of filmmakers drafted a letter of dissatisfaction to the president of the Motion Picture Association of Bhutan, listing flaws in the decision-making process for the awards. Questions were raised about the competence of the judges, the judge selection and the manner in which actors and directors were chosen, especially those recruited based on family ties.
The dissident group suggested an award ceremony in which the public calls the shots. “Those who go to see the films should vote; let the viewers decide,” an unnamed actor said. “Or the jury should be accountable to each other for the basis on which they choose films for the awards.” The letter to the president asked for retraction of unmerited awards.
A Call for Tradition in Bhutan
Also in Bhutan, the country’s InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA) recently released a set of guidelines for film producers and directors, regulations which set forth strict regulations to preserve and promote traditional Bhutanese culture. The regulations call for formal Bhutanese clothing to be worn in films and traditional music to be used. Needless to say, the Bhutan media and public are reacting both positively and negatively in blogs and newspapers.
Thailand Film Office Eyes Middle East
Last but not at all least, the production-services industry in Thailand continues to benefit from the filming of The Hangover Part II in Bangkok late last year. The Thailand Film Office has been receiving requests for filming, mostly smaller movies and TV commercials from North America and Europe.
However, one area of the world that has not taken advantage of Thailand’s locations and world-class production services is the Middle East. In 2011, only Turkey, Israel and the U.A.E have shot documentaries and TV programs there, with total spend of around US$160,000. The biggest Middle Eastern production spender in Thailand in 2010 was an Iranian feature film which spent around US$500,000 on their production. The Thailand Film Office has stepped up its efforts in the Middle East.
Tourism as a whole has been increasing from the Middle East to Thailand, especially medical tourism, but the Thailand Film Office will have to make a concentrated effort to attract the location-destination segment of the market, especially with a studio like Pinewood opening its doors in Malaysia in 2012.