South Korean Exhibition Giant CJ CGV to Triple Global Screen Count by 2020

CJ CGV
CJ CGV

The world's fifth-largest cinema group expects overseas revenue to exceed domestic revenue at the end of this year.

South Korean exhibitor CJ CGV is aiming to secure 10,000 screens in 11 countries by 2020, CEO Seo Jung said during the company's annual media forum in Seoul on Tuesday.

Since opening its first location in eastern Seoul in 1998, CJ CGV has grown into the world's fifth-largest cinema chain, with 3,456 screens in 463 venues around the globe. Of these, 1,117 in 151 venues are in South Korea. This means that CJ CGV is planning to nearly triple its number of screens over the next two years.

The top four global leaders in the exhibition business are China's Wanda Group with 14,300-plus screens including the world's largest chain, AMC; U.K.-based Cineworld Group, which acquired Regal after its total screen count comes down to over 9,500; Texas-based Cinemark, with 5,900-plus screens; and Mexico's Cinepolis, with some 5,000 screens.

"Reaching 10,000 screens will mean that 86 percent of our revenue will come from overseas," said Jung. The company expects that its number of locations will cross the 500 mark by the end of the year, with overseas revenue then exceeding domestic revenue.

"The fact that overseas sales are surpassing the domestic market will be a critical push toward CGV's global vision," the CEO said, emphasizing that the company must proactively develop new markets.

In 2011, CJ CGV ranked No. 14 among international exhibitors, but it quickly shot up the ranks through acquisitions in growing markets. In 2011, it purchased Vietnam's top movie chain, Megastar Media Company, and in 2016 alone it acquired the largest local multiplex chains in Turkey (Mars) and Malaysia (GSC) and increased its initial stake in Indonesia's leading exhibitor, Blitz.

The company did not specify whether its expansion plans include more such acquisitions. The multiplex chain, owned by food and entertainment giant CJ, did emphasize, however, that its global strategy is about quality more than quantity. "We will lead a future-oriented cinema market and expand the notion of the cultureplex across the world," said Jung. "Cultureplex" is the company's name for a comprehensive entertainment destination for not only film but also other forms of entertainment.

Following the forum, the cinema chain offered a media tour of the new forest-themed theater that opened at CGV Gangbyeon on Friday. The atmospheric theater features a sloped floor covered with artificial grass, bean-bag chairs and moss-covered walls, as well as an oxygen-generation system and machines fuming subtle forest-inspired scents. Moviegoers can to enter the space 20 minutes prior to the screening to enjoy a picnic with beer and fried chicken.