Sleepless in Tokyo, but back home safe in Bangkok...

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A funny thing happened to me on the way home to Bangkok from my father's funeral in Baltimore—they couldn't fly me back in. So NWA dumped me in Tokyo, where I spent five sleepless days and nights trying to figure out how to get home.

Yes, I finally made it, but still shell-shocked from the experience, I couldn't bear to leave home again and I missed CineAsia. To my compatriots who knew of my family loss and sent condolences—many thanks. To those of you who heard my travel tribulations—learn from my distress. This column is not the proper venue to discuss such matters, but check out my personal blog at http://anelephantshome.blogspot.com

While I was away, there was a lot of activity in the exhibition arena here in Asia.
Let's start with CineAsia, where Jareuk Kaljareuk, president of the Thai Federation of National Film, was presented the third Asia-Pacific Copyright Educator Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the protection of intellectual-property rights within the Asia-Pacific region. The first Thai to win such a prestigious international award, Jareuk led the local industry to support anti-camcording efforts and is promoting the establishment of a local coalition to support enforcement, PR and outreach efforts to fight piracy. Congrats, Khun Jareuk!

In more CineAsia news, 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures International and Universal Pictures International pacted with GDC Technology on a financing deal to support DCI-compliant digital-cinema equipment to be deployed by GDC throughout Asian cinemas. We'll keep you updated.

Eng Wah Leaves Scene
Eng Wah, Singapore's fourth-ranking cinema group is no more. The circuit, which had 28 theatres, 20 of them d-cinema ready, delisted from the Singapore bourse in late November, in a reverse takeover by Japanese biotechnology firm Transcutaneous Technologies. The $660 million worth of stock has now been renamed Transcu.

No word on the current fate of the cinemas, but back in August it was announced the Empress Theater, Toa Payoh Entertainment Center, Jubilee Entertainment Complex and the 16th floor at Orchard Towers would be sold for $65.9 million to a company owned by Eng Wah founder Goh Eng Wah. Eng Wah was founded in 1940.

Korean Screens Continue to Grow
The Korean Film Council (KOFIC) recently released 2007 cinema figures showing 5% growth last year, an increase trend unbroken since the 1990s.

At the end of 2007, there were 1,957 screens, up from the previous year's 1,880. Multiplex screens (which KOFIC defines as seven screens or more) jumped from 198 in 2006 to 210 in ’07. Multiplex ticket share also increased from 62% to 67%.

The CJ circuit, comprised of CJ-CGV and Primus Cinemas, is the largest in South Korea. CJ-CGV has 461 screens in 57 theatres, while Primus has 276 in 38 locations. Between them, the two CJ-linked chains account for 37% of all screens in the country and 30.3% of all theatres. Lotte Cinema ranked number two with 316 screens in 41 locations, followed by Cinus (160 screens in 23 theatres) and Megabox (123 screens in 15 theatres).

Pyramid Partners in China
In my "Pan-Asian Multiplex Investment" article in the December issue of Film Journal International, I wrote about the Arts & Cultural Cooperation Agreement between the China Society of Music Research Board (CSMRB), the PRC Ministry of Culture, and India’s Pyramid Saimira Theatres—an odd mix, but certainly with good intentions in mind, to promote cultural cooperation between India and China.

Now we hear Pyramid has taken the next step and along with CSMRB and a new partner, China's Jiangsu Longzhe Group, opened a two-plex in Huainan, China. The joint venture is reported to be spending $30 million and will open six more plexes by the end of December. It plans to launch 25 digitally equipped theatres in all. Pyramid also has theatres in the U.S., Malaysia and Singapore.

Adlabs Earns Copyright Nod
Adlabs, the theatre division of India's Reliance ADA Group, announced back in September that it was the world's first cinema chain to commercially deliver movies to its theatres by fiber-optic cable.

With encoding at the company's d-cinema mastering facility in Mumbai, the company claims it has operated more than 10,000 commercial screenings in 2K d-cinemas, with more than 2,000 transmitted via fiber-optic cables.

Patrick von Sychowski, chief operating officer of Adlabs Digital Cinema, declared, "The Adlabs Film City complex—which includes the Digital Cinema Mastering facility—is the first facility in Asia to receive the prestigious international Federation Against Copyright Theft accreditation. Using fiber for end-to-end delivery, we are able to offer unparalleled picture and sound quality."

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.