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SEOUL — CJ CGV, South Korea’s largest operator of movie theaters, announced Dec. 22 that it will become the fifth multiplex chain in the world to exceed 100 million annual admissions by year end. Though CGV has several dozen theaters overseas, the figures are based on scores on home turf only.
There are only four other brands that have brought in over 100 million moviegoers across the world: Regal, AMC and Cinemark in the U.S. and Cinepolis in Mexico. The Korean film market in general broke new records as it recorded 200 million admissions on Dec. 18, and the number is expected to exceed 210 million by year end with the release of anticipated films of the season.
Since launching Korea’s first multiplex cinema in 1998, CGV is credited with transforming the local movie-going culture. It rejected the “block booking system” that was standard at the time, where studios would sell films in packages to designated theaters, thus limiting accessibility to diverse films.
Prior to 1997, only 2.5 out of every 10 moviegoers watched homespun movies. In 2013, the market share for Korean films nears 60 percent with eight of the year’s top 10 grossing films being homegrown.
Meanwhile CGV continues to make headway into the international theater business. Since launching its first overseas multiplex in Shanghai in 2006, it operates 40 theaters with 296 screens in China, the U.S. and Vietnam. These account for 26.4 percent of the company’s total operations based on the number of screens. By 2014, its overseas operations is expected to reach 30 percent, particularly through expansions in China. Vietnam’s top exhibitor MegaStar will also be integrated into the CGV brand.
CGV is also reputed for the innovative 4DX technology featuring multi-sensory chairs in climate controlled rooms. Currently there are 90 4DX screens in 22 countries worldwide.
“As one of the world’s top five cinema chains, CGV will continue its international growth,” said Jung Seo, CEO of CGV. “By 2020, we aim to become the world’s top multiplex, expanding our theater business, including 4DX, to 60 countries worldwide.”
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