By KWANCHAI RUNGFAPAISARN
Suwat Thongrompo, chief executive officer of SF Corporation, said that about Bt600 million of the budget would be invested in the expansion of the cinema network, especially in upcountry locations. The remainder would be spent on upgrading the IT system and the development of new online sales and e-ticketing channels, with the aim of reaching out to more customers.
The first of the six new outlets planned for this year opened on January 25. The SF Cinema Tops Plaza Phayao consists of three cinema screens with more than 300 seats in total. The other five locations will be opened in the second half of the year in partnership with the company’s retail partners. A complex in The Robinson Lifestyle Centre Chon Buri (five screens) will open on June 27, followed by one in Big C Sakaew (three screens) on July 4. The remaining complexes - in Big C Samutsongkram (three screens), Big C Phetkasem (four screens) and Terminal 21 Pattaya (seven screens) – will open their doors throughout the rest of this year. SF’s existing cinemas will also be upgraded to have a more modern look.
SF will also develop special cinemas in addition to its current offerings, such as First Class Cinema, Happiness Screen and MX4D. This year, it will introduce Zigma CineStadium, a futuristic cinema that offers a fully immersive entertainment experience, with the largest screen equipped with Digital 4K laser technology to offer the highest definition. The Dolby ATMOS sound system takes the experience to another level, the company said, while the “Super Stadium seats come with extra space between seats to offer a limitless entertainment experience”.
SF has 57 branches, with a total of 371 cinemas, offering 81,300 seats in Bangkok and 27 other provinces (20 branches and 166 cinemas in Bangkok, 37 branches and 205 cinemas in other provinces).
It is also getting ready to fully become a public company and is in the process of preparing to list on the stock market, which is expected to happen in 2019. SF aims to generate Bt5 billion in revenue this year, up 20 per cent over 2017, and Bt337 million in profit, up 86 per cent over last year.
In addition to the expansion of ticket sales channels, another contributing factor to its growth is the spate of blockbusters like Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Deadpool 2 and Thai film Brother of The Year. On screen now is Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and later this year, there will be major films like Ant-Man and the Wasp, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Venom, Bumble Bee, and Fantastic Beasts, which are set to generate a lot of revenue, the company said.
Overall, in 2017, SF met its expectations, with Bt4.2 billion in revenue, up 6 per cent over the previous year, and Bt180 million in profit, a 14 per cent increase from 2016.
SF said it is moving forward in collaboration with new partners to expand its ticket sales channels to suit the digital era. It is confident that its strong content will help it achieve its revenue expectations.
Suwat said SF is dedicated to expanding its ticket sale channels, investing Bt100 million in its IT systems to better reach its viewers. The backend bandwidth has been increased, while the SF Cinema app and website have been optimised to offer a smoother and faster online ticketing experience to its customers. With new partners like Kasikornbank, Siam Commercial Bank, Airpay and Bluepay, customers can conveniently purchase movie tickets on the go.
For on-site experience, SF has introduced Kiosk Express Ticketing by GSB for GSB’s Payment Gateway in addition to regular ticketing counters to facilitate customers in the digital era.
SF’s partners will also offer promotions and benefits to SF customers, in line with the trend towards a cashless society. Customers can also make payments using credit and debit cards. SF has also launched SF Movie Club Card, which also serves as a cash card for purchasing movie tickets, popcorn and drinks. Members’ information is collected to analyse their behaviour in order to craft campaigns to suit their needs.