M’sia’s cinema industry shake-up takes shape with GSC acquiring MBO

PPB Group Bhd’s cinema arm Golden Screen Cinemas Sdn Bhd (GSC) will further consolidate its position as Malaysia’s largest cinema exhibitor following its acquisition of majority cinema assets from MCAT Box Office Sdn Bhd and Reel Entertainment Holdings Sdn Bhd (both under creditors’ voluntary winding up) who are operators of the former MBO cinema circuit.

An asset sale agreement on the said acquisition was signed on Feb 23. The acquisition is expected to complete by the end-June this year.

Malaysia’s three biggest cinema operators are GSC, TGV Cinemas Sdn Bhd (Malaysia’s second largest cinema chain) and MBO.

Despite the present challenging business environment, GSC’s CEO Koh Mei Lee deemed the acquisition as strategic to accelerate its brand’s growth and strengthen its market leadership position.

Koh Mei Lee

“We are counting on the cinema to continue to uplift, inspire, and entertain communities from all walks of life,” commented Koh.

“The acquisition of MBO cinema assets will further enhance GSC’s diverse, innovative, and cutting-edge offerings; and audiences can look forward to a more wholesome, personalised, and delightful time at the movies with us.”

GSC, according to Koh, intends to optimise both circuits’ unique selling points to enhance its technologies, assets and know-how, thus allowing the exhibitor to deliver even more enriching cinema experiences than before.

“The cinema business is one of the core operations at PPB Group Bhd and we remain committed to the growth of the vibrant cinema sector,” she stressed.

“We view the COVID-19 pandemic as a temporary setback and are confident that once the pandemic has passed, audiences deprived of out-of-home-entertainment will return to the cinemas with a vengeance, consistent with what we have seen happen in other regions.”

In China, the local movie Detective Chinatown 3 recorded US$424 mil in box office collections over its holiday weekend, breaking the record by Avengers: Endgame of US$357 mil set in North America in 2019 for the largest weekend opening in a single market.

Ticket sales for the first six days of the Lunar New Year holiday touched 7.8 bil yuan (RM4.9 bil), 32% higher than the same period in 2019.

These box office records were achieved despite capacity restrictions of 75% in most of the country or 50% in areas more at risk of COVID-19.

“We are confident that the acquisition of MBO cinema assets, together with the impending roll-out of the vaccine, will help accelerate our recovery from this pandemic,” opined Koh.

While audiences may now be turning to other entertainment platforms like home streaming, GSC believes that the cinema will prevail for the future as it has for decades despite the emergence of new media like television, home video, and the internet.

“The big screen experience cannot be replicated at home and there is no comparable substitute for sitting in a darkened hall in a communal setting, sharing a cinematic experience with friends or family,” justified Koh.

“Humans are social beings, and the movie-going lifestyle remains the most accessible and affordable form of entertainment and recreation. – March 2, 2021

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