THX Sound Company Takes Aim At Booming China Market

George Lucas-founded company links up with China Film Group unit

THX, the sound company co-founded by George Lucas, has opened offices in Beijing and partnered with a subsidiary of the powerful China Film Group to expand the number of quality screens and serve a growing appetite for Hollywood blockbusters.

“China is gigantic. There is so much going on here,” Louis Cacciuttolo, THX executive vp of international business development and brand strategy, told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview.

THX has signed a strategic partnership with the equipment unit of the state-owned China Film Group to provide THX design Cinema Certification programs. Also the first THX-certified China Giant Screen (CGS) auditoriums will open in September 2014 in Shanghai, followed by a project in Suzhou in eastern China.

“Giant screens are growing very fast. China Film Group will have more than 150 giant screens by the end of next year. Their intention is to provide us with a significant number of projects … they want us to certify some very high-profile projects,” said Cacciuttolo.

Although the Chinese market, especially on the exhibition side, has been expanding rapidly and is now the second biggest film market in the world, Cacciuttolo said it was the right time for THX to enter the market.

“Earlier was too early as the environment was not ready for this level of quality. The design and installation was not the best to maximize the acoustics. This is where THX can play a role. There is a demand and a lot of room,” he said.

THX was created in 1983 by Lucas and a team of Lucasfilm engineers with the goal of improving the cinema experience in time for the release of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.

To date, THX has certified over 4,000 cinemas, including the TCL Chinese Theater and the ArcLight in Hollywood, the Empire in London and the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow.

“The debut of THX in China is of special significance to Chinese filmmakers and movie-goers, bringing China’s film industry one step closer to international standards regarding audio and video performance,” Lin Minjie, general manager of China Film Group’s subsidiary company China Film Equipment Co. Ltd, said in a statement.