RANGOON — A private cinema developer will build 100 cinemas in Burma within the next two years to encourage the country’s stagnating film industry, the Information Ministry said.
Representatives from local cinema developer Maze Co. Ltd., chaired by former actor Lwin Moe, met with information minister Pe Myint on Thursday. They outlined the company’s business plan to build cinemas throughout the country, the ministry’s permanent secretary Tint Swe—who was also present at the meeting—told The Irrawaddy.
Tint Swe said that in Burma, the disappearance of theater venues has contributed to the film industry’s downfall—a sentiment with which many industry insiders agree.
Despite 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.
“Establishing more cinemas is a critical factor in redeveloping the country’s film industry,” Tint Swe said.
The number of theaters nationwide has declined to just 49 from its peak of more than 200, according to the information ministry’s Motion Picture Development Branch (MPDB). Tint Swe said that only 27 cinema halls throughout the country are ministry-owned theaters.
“To revitalize the cinema culture in Myanmar, there must be enough platforms to showcase films,” he said.
The company sought assistance from the Ministry of Information to act as a negotiator between the development company and other ministries if the land where the company wants to build a theater is government-owned, he explained. But he clarified that the ministry will not be involved in other business aspects.
The Irrawaddy could not reach cinema development company chairman Lwin Moe at the time of reporting, and the projected timeline and start date for the venture are yet to be announced by the company.
Tint Swe also said that the information ministry is preparing to hand over ministry-owned cinemas to respective regional governments for further management and that there is no plan to privatize in the future.