Lotte to open first China cinema in Dec.

Korean entertainment major plans more sites in 2011

BUSAN, South Korea -- South Korean exhibition major Lotte Cinemas will open its first multiplex in China in the northeastern city of Shenyang on Dec. 8, Lotte Cinemas CEO Son Kwang-ik announced. 

It's the first step in what the company plans as a multi-city expansion next year, with designs to open 10 more sites across China including in major cities Shanghai, Beijing, and Wuhan. It plans to have a total of 70 screens lit up by end of 2011, with an additional 52 screens in 2012. 

The Shenyang site is a partnership with China's New Northeast Cinemas, bringing a six-screen multiplex totaling 900 seats to the industrial city of 7 million. 

As China's box office boom continues, jumping over 80% in the first half of this year, the rapidly expanding exhibition sector sees an average of one new screen per day.  During the Oct. 1-7 National Day holiday alone, China's box office took in 280 million yuan ($42 million). The charge was led by Tsui Hark’s “Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame,” which took in almost half of that total gross, and “Inception,” which brought in about 50 million yuan.

Lotte Cinema division manager Justin Choi said the company expects to have 30-plus theaters across China by 2014. The move is part of an international expansion plan by the Korean giant, with a view to open additional sites in Russia and Indonesia.  Lotte currently runs three theaters in Vietnam, totaling 12 screens. 

The China expansion will see Lotte catching up with rival Korean exhibition chain CJ-CGV, which already has five theaters operating there and plans to have 25 by 2013.

On Thursday, Beijing Galloping Horse Film & TV announced plans to open 15 theaters next year, costing about 500 million yuan.
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