By WATCHIRANONT THONGTEP
Vicha Poolvaraluck, chairman of Major Cineplex Group, said there were few screens relative to Thailand’s large population of 65 million.
United International Pictures (UIP), a major film distributor, says there are currently about 1,100 cinemas in Thailand.
Meanwhile in Malaysia, Vicha said with a population of only 26 million, the number of cinema screens is as high as 1,000. South Korea’s 54 million people are served by 2,200 cinema screens. On average, South Koreans view four movies in the cinemas per year.
In China, with a population of 1.2 billion, there are as many as 40,000 cinemas, and 1.2 billion tickets are sold per year. The average Chinese national sees one movie a year in a cinema.
Vicha said Thai movies would play a key role in the remaining months of this year, with the film industry expected to grow by 10 per cent. He said 21 Thai films were set to be screened across the country in the remaining months.
The line-up of Hollywood blockbusters is also looking impressive, such as “Suicide Squad”, “Sinister Six”, “Resident Evil 6”, “Doctor Strange” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”.
In the first half, Major’s business performance went as planned. There were more than 13 Thai movies, generating of ticket sales of more than Bt100 million. The company targets revenue growth of more than 10 per cent this year from Bt8.58 billion in 2015.
To support sustainable growth, Major plans to have a total of 1,000 screens by 2020, up from 630 now.
Suwat Thongrompo, chief executive officer of SF Corporation, an operator of multiplex theatres, said the movie industry was doing better than expected. There had been concerns that this year’s line-up of blockbusters could not match the 2015 roster.
He said that at the company’s internal meeting held to set up an investment budget for this year, they were quite concern about this year situation. There were strong line-up of mainstream movies during last year, including Fast & Furious 7, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Jurassic World. Those mega blockbusters generated Bt387 million, Bt294 million, and Bt289 million respectively in ticket sales.
“This year, there are no super blockbusters as last year. “However, the movie line-up has been quite well sustained from one week to another, which is good for the overall industry,” he said.
He gave the example of money-making films being launched during this year, which are Captain America: Civil War, Luang Pee Jazz 4G, The Independence Day: Resurgence and The Legend of Tarzan. They have been screened continuously at the theatres.
SF Corp operates 322 movie screens in 48 locations in Bangkok and other major cities. The company will open between 30 and 50 new screens every year, focusing on shopping malls.
“We target Bt5 billion in revenue this year, up 25 per cent over the Bt4 billion posted last year. About 65 per cent of revenue will from ticket sales, and the rest from concessions and advertising,” Suwat said.
He added that SF posted between Bt2.4 billion and Bt2.5 billion in revenue in the first six months, for a growth rate of 25 per cent over the same period last year.
Pannatat Phromsupa, general manager for Thailand at UIP, said that with about 1,100 cinemas in Thailand, there was room for expansion.
In China, for instance, the number of cinemas increased rapidly, from 8,000 in 2010 to about 40,000 this year, which is similar to the number in the United States. It is expected that the number of cinemas in China will reach 60,000 by 2020.
Pannatat said that in Thailand, people were becoming smarter movie consumers. With the emergence of social media, Thais are able to access and become educated by a huge stream of movie information. They have better understanding of the market and movie content.
Consumers have information that is no different from that available to distributors and well-known movie critics.
Movie content, however, is the first priority for individual consumers in deciding whether to watch a film or not.
He said the local movie industry grew by 5 per cent year on year in the first six months of 2016. Whether the economy is good or bad, entertainment is among the first choices by Thai consumers.
UIP targets Bt750 million in box-office revenue this year and about 27 movies distributed by the company will be screened at local theatres.
About Bt320 million in revenue was earned in the first six months with the screening of 15 titles. Another 12 titles will be launched in the second half.
Pannatat said the company expected to earn Bt1.8 billion in box-office revenue next year, driven by a strong line-up of its distributed movies, each with the potential to generate more than Bt100 million in revenue.
Those super blockbusters are: Fast & Furious 8, Transformers: The Last Knight, Dark Universe: The Mummy, World War Z 2, Xxx Medico, The Great Wall, and Ghost in the Shell.
Kavee Chukitkasem, assistant managing director at Kasikorn Securities, said the cinema industry was reaching a mature stage, particularly in major cities such as Bangkok. In small cities, the cinema market is still growing along with the overall economy.