100-Cinema Plan Begins Pilot Project

By Tin Htet Paing 12 July 2016

RANGOON — A US$20 million cinema plan has started its pilot project in Rangoon’s Taik Kyi and southern Shan State’s Aungban townships, according to private cinema developer Maze Co., Ltd.

The project is financially backed by the conglomerate KBZ Group, which will cover construction expenses and land acquisition, said former actor and Maze Co. Ltd. chair Lwin Moe, at a signing ceremony between the developer and Clover Solution Myanmar—the authorized installation company for the Brussels-based technology company Barco—for a deal to install cinema equipment at the movie theaters, on Monday.

“Nowadays, film producers are struggling due to the lack of movie theaters,” said Lwin Moe, referring to a system that makes film production companies queue to be shown at box offices, sometimes waiting more than two years.

Representatives from the Maze Co. Ltd., met with information minister Pe Myint last month, outlining the company’s business plan to build 100 cinemas throughout the country within the next two years.

Although the 100-cinema project aims to operate movie theaters in small towns and cities where there currently are none, the commercial capital Rangoon will enjoy 24 new cinemas as the largest benefactor of the initiative. Irrawaddy and Mandalay divisions will receive 19 and 15 cinemas respectively and at least one cinema will be built in every state and division including the ethnic Kachin, Kayah, Kayin and Chin states.

The number of theaters around the country has declined to just 49 from its peak of more than 200, and only 27 theaters are ministry-owned, according to the information ministry’s Motion Picture Development Branch (MPDB).

After what insiders describe as the industry’s “golden era” from the 1950s until the 1970s, Burma’s once-grand cinema halls were sold off to the private sector and torn down for other purposes or were privatized in the 1990s as part of the government’s economic policy.

Lwin Moe said at the ceremony that the project seeks to strengthen the country’s stagnating film industry and will attract audiences with high-quality movie theaters. The developer said that each cinema will have 316 seats, featuring a Dolby digital sound system.