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(LEAD) CGV CEO says globalization only way to survive

All Headlines 16:22 June 22, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details in last six paras; ADDS photo; CORRECTS name throughout)
By Shim Sun-ah

SEOUL, June 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's largest cinema chain, CJ CGV, aims to advance further into the European and Middle Eastern markets with Turkey as its base, its head said Wednesday, stressing that globalization is the only way to survive.

In April, the chain, owned by food and entertainment conglomerate CJ, sealed a deal to acquire Mars Entertainment Group, the largest movie chain in Turkey. The acquisition deal pushed CJ CGV to fifth among global multi-screen theater chains by number of screens owned. It ranked 10th in November 2015 according to the same metric.

"Turkey has the highest potential for growth in the world besides China," Seo Jung, chief executive officer of the South Korean company, said during its regular movie industry forum held at its chain theater in Yeouido, Seoul. Turkey has the third-largest population in Europe. "We have the goal of expanding further into the European and Middle Eastern markets with Turkey as our base."

Korean TV dramas, films and pop music have large followings in the country where the average age is 29, he said.

But the boom of Korean culture cannot last long without a platform to carry good Korean content in a stable manner, he stressed.

CGV currently has 2,632 screens at 339 theaters around the world, but the number is still small compared with the No. 1 player, China's Wanda Cinema, which has about 9,000 screens, he said.

"As our generation has relied on the manufacturing industry left by our parents, we should have something to leave to the next generation... Eventually, globalization is the only way to survive. Without it, we have no future," he added.

Seo also commented on the public criticism on the screen monopoly by major film distributors affiliated with large conglomerates that also owns theaters.

"Screen monopoly has always been the object of public censure," he said. "To solve the problem, CGV launched a programming committee last year to pick movies to show in the most transparent manner possible."

But he blamed moviegoers' growing preference for big-budget films over small films for the widening imbalance, citing domestic box-office data on the monthly numbers of attendance.

The data showed that the top three films dominated 70 percent of tickets sold in theaters during the August peak season but only 50 percent during the March or April off season. This means there is no direct link between CGV's possible preference of films distributed by its affiliate, CJ Entertainment, and their box-office performance, he said.

"With many alternative platforms, people now show an extreme tendency of going to see titles that they think are worth watching in theaters regardless of how we allocate films on screens," he claimed.

sshim@yna.co.kr
(END)

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