Major Cineplex, Korean firm agree to set up film-production JV

Kwanchai Rungfapaisarn

Major Cineplex Group has signed a memorandum of understanding with South Korean-based entertainment giant CJ E&M Corporation to form a joint venture for the co-production of movies for international markets, particularly Southeast Asia.

Sangar Chatchairungruang, chief movie officer at Major Group, said the MoU was signed last Wednesday and the joint venture would be set up within a month. Under the venture, about six blockbusters will be produced annually. The first movie will be on local screens by the middle of next year. 

“After this, representatives from Major Cineplex and CJ E&M will meet within the next one or two weeks to discuss the scale of the partnership, including the investment budget, as well as movie content,” he said.

Sangar said Major Cineplex had been cooperating with CJ E&M for a while, buying many of the Korean firm’s technologies for its cinemas, including 4DX four-dimensional cinema, and Screen X, a 270-degree cinema system.

“Southeast Asia is the next target market foreseen by CJ E&M, Thailand in particular, which is the most advanced movie market in the region,” he said.

Sangar said the film market in South Korea had matured, and CJ E&M, which is one of the largest movie-production houses in the country, is looking for other market opportunities. CJ E&M has already opened subsidiaries in China and the United States. In Japan, the company has formed a joint venture with Toho, one of the largest film production and distribution companies in that country.

“In Thailand, we have good film productions. However, the country is still lacking producers who understand the market,” he said. 

Major Cineplex Group has three production houses in its portfolio, namely M39, Transformation, and Talent1. It operates 534 movie screens in 80 locations throughout Thailand, and last year opened a cinema complex in Phnom Penh with seven movie screens. 

Sangar said Thai film producers were hands-on and usually lacked a marketing point of view. With one producer in charge of the entire filmmaking process, they have limited capability to produce enough movies to supply growing markets, in Thailand itself and in other countries in Southeast Asia. 

“It is a time to revolutionise film production in Thailand towards a studio-based and brainstorming system so that enough good-quality films will be supplied to the market,” he said.

In Thailand, between 15 and 16 Thai movies are screened per annum, accounting about 30 per cent of the movies that hit local cinemas. In developed cinema markets such as South Korea, Japan and China, the proportion of local films is as high as 65 per cent.

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