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New movie screens galore

Major Cineplex Group plans to invest Bt800 million to open its largest-ever 20-screen multiplex theatre and other entertainment attractions at the Mega Bang Na project by 2011.

Costing about Bt10 billion, the Mega Bang Na complex will be located on Bang Na-Trat Road at Kilometre 9, near the Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring Road.

The huge shopping complex is being developed by the local joint venture between Siam Future Development, a subsidiary of Major Cineplex Group, and the local subsidiary of Singapore-based Ikano, which holds the franchise rights for Ikea home-furnishing stores in Singapore , Malaysia and Thailand.

Ikano plans to open its first Ikea store in Thailand at the Mega Bang Na complex.

"Our 20-screen multiplex theatre and entertainment venue will occupy retail space of more than 30,000 square metres," said Vicha Poolvaraluck, chairman of Major Cineplex Group. It will include bowling alleys and an ice-skating rink."

Somkid Tantadvanichkul, director of Siam Future Development, said the shopping complex would consist of 600,000 square metres on 300 rai of land. Construction will start in the third quarter of this year, with opening scheduled for no later than the first quarter of 2011.

"The project at the Mega Bang Na complex will come on top of the normal expansion of between 30 and 40 cinema screens annually planned by the company. We have already opened nearly 400 screens in the market place and hope to achieve 500 screens totally in the next three years," said Vicha.

He said the company would open its latest 16-screen multiplex theatre in Rattanathibet in November this year. Costing about Bt1 billion, the new complex will occupy total retail space of 65,000 square metres, including the Sub Zero skating rink, Blue-O bowling alleys and karaoke rooms.

The company will next year also open five or six attractions each at the Tesco Lotus hypermarket in the Amata Nakhon Industrial Estate and the Big C Supercentre in Mahachai Muang Mai.

"We achieved sales of about 30 million tickets last year, or nearly Bt4 billion. We expect to grow further by, between 10 per cent and 15 per cent this year, driven by a strong line-up of blockbusters," Vicha said.

He said that "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" had achieved the great success locally, with over Bt200 million in ticket sales. "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince", which hits local screens today, is expected to post at least Bt150 million in ticket sales. Other blockbusters, including "GI Joe" and "Avatar", will hit local theatres in August and December respectively this year.

"I'm concerned about only two key factors: the local political situation and the Type-A (H1N1) flu, both of which have impacted the country's image and the local tourism sector," said Vicha. He added that the flu caused a significant drop of between 10 per cent and 15 per cent in the number of moviegoers at its theatres last week.

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