Lights, cam­era, ac­tion

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - ZAY YAR LINN za­yarlinn@mm­

The num­ber of Myan­mar movie theatres has dwin­dled in re­cent decades, but lo­cal com­pany MAZE is plan­ning to build 100 cin­e­mas across the coun­try with pri­or­ity go­ing to towns with­out a sin­gle pic­ture­house.

MOVIE-LOV­ING Myan­mar is suf­fer­ing from a dearth of cin­e­mas, which lo­cal firm MAZE is hop­ing to rem­edy. The com­pany is kick­ing off a K20 bil­lion two-year project to build 100 theatres across dif­fer­ent states and re­gions.

There were more than 400 cin­e­mas na­tion­wide in the early 1980s, but by the 2010s this had dropped to around 40, ac­cord­ing to the firm. Many cin­e­mas went out of busi­ness and the build­ings have since been de­mol­ished to make way for ho­tels, shop­ping malls and apart­ment and of­fice build­ings.

This has had a knock-on ef­fect on coun­try’s film in­dus­try. Pro­duc­ers strug­gle to make prof­its, be­cause their films have to queue – some­times for years – to be re­leased on the big screen.

MAZE chair U Lwin Moe said he had in­ter­viewed peo­ple across the coun­try and found many that were un­able to watch films be­cause their area lacked a cin­ema.

“I found there wasn’t a sin­gle cin­ema in Mawlamyine de­spite a pop­u­la­tion of some 300,000,” he said.

KBZ Group is fi­nanc­ing the project to bring movie theatres to the masses, and the MAZE has also held dis­cus­sions and ne­go­ti­a­tions with the Min­istry of In­for­ma­tion, MAZE CEO U Tin Maung Win said.

A K20 bil­lion project loan from KBZ will cover all the con­struc­tion ex­penses and land ac­qui­si­tion, with ap­prox­i­mately K200 mil­lion ear­marked for each cin­ema, U Tin Maung Win said at a press con­fer­ence at the head­quar­ters of City FM in Yangon on July 1

The Myan­mar Mo­tion Pic­ture Or­gan­i­sa­tion’s pres­i­dent U Luu Min, Min­istry of In­for­ma­tion of­fi­cials and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of KBZ Group were among those at­tend­ing.

MAZE, which was set up to op­er­ate cin­e­mas, will pri­ori­tise towns with­out a movie the­ater, and has al­ready started con­struc­tion work on cin­e­mas in the south­ern Shan State town of Aung­ban and in Yangon Re­gion’s Taikkyi township as a pi­lot project.

Those two cin­e­mas are slated to open within four months, and plans for the next round of con­struc­tion will be based on the ex­pe­ri­ence of the pi­lot project, MAZE said at the press con­fer­ence.

All cin­e­mas will be two-storey 60-by-80 foot build­ings and oc­cupy land leased from own­ers on 10-year con­tracts, U Lwin Moe said. The firm will also co­op­er­ate with own­ers of ex­ist­ing small town theatres to help up­grade their fa­cil­i­ties, he added.

The project aims to bring cin­e­mas of equal qual­ity and stan­dard to small towns and larger cities, U Lwin Moe said. Mod­ern fa­cil­i­ties like au­to­matic ticket ma­chines will be used to save costs, he added, and the lo­ca­tion for each cin­ema will strike a bal­ance be­tween con­ve­nience for cus­tomers and land prices, as down­town ar­eas are ex­pen­sive.

“It’s dif­fi­cult to say how much we will pay for the land as prices vary from town to town,” U Lwin Moe said.

MAZE orig­i­nally planned to build 116 theatres but re­duced the num­ber to 100. How­ever, the cin­e­mas – all called Aung Bar Lay – will still be built in ever state and re­gion across Myan­mar.

Yangon Re­gion will en­joy the most new cin­e­mas, with Man­dalay, Bago and Aye­yarwady the next largest re­cip­i­ents.

The new 316-seat MAZE cin­e­mas will use Barco pro­jec­tors and Dolby dig­i­tal sound sys­tems, with ticket prices start­ing from K1000.

– Trans­la­tion by Kyawt Darly Lin

Photo: EPA

A Cin­derella story for Myan­mar’s movie houses. La­bor­ers work on bam­boo scaf­fold­ing as they paint the front view of a cin­ema at down­town area of Yangon in March 2015.

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