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Silver screen setting up

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Construction was under way yesterday at Sabay’s cinema in Sorya Mall, aiming to be the second licenced Phnom Penh cinema to open recently.

SABAY Company is set to open a cinema in Sorya Mall on August 4, aiming to become the second cinema in as many months to show licenced films in the Kingdom, Sabay Chief Commercial Officer Abhaya said yesterday.

Legend cinema began showing primarily Hollywood movies in City Mall last month, but Sabay is aiming to offer patrons a more diverse range of international and independent films, he said yesterday.

“We don’t want to compete with the other cinema, as the market is still very small. However, we will show a number of Hollywood films alongside Asian blockbusters and independent films from around the
world.”

Sabay received the green light to construct the theatre three months ago, at the same location as an existing cinema, and will comprise three screens, including one 3D.

The first movie to be screened will be the Chinese film Wu Xia, a hit at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

“We wanted the premiere to be a little different, a taste of things to come, and what is better than this highly successful Chinese export,” Abhaya said.

The second film set to be shown is Captain America: The First Avenger, which opened to US audiences last weekend.

The Cineplex will be only the second cinema nationwide to show legitimately distributed films, said Michael Chai, director of Sabay theatre’s distributor Westec Media Limited.

“I’m really happy. It’s great to see another cinema in Phnom Penh going down the legal path and with the right attitude.”

He added that he expects further Hollywood cinemas to open in the capital and is looking forward to the evolution of Cambodia’s film industry.

“The launch of these cinemas will evoke more companies’ interest in the idea of opening Hollywood-style cinemas and we are more than happy to advise them,” Chai said.

Tickets prices will start at $4, matching Legend Cinema, however, some industry experts doubt there will be many local filmgoers at first, given the Kingdom’s piracy culture and the lack of disposable income.

Although the recent emergence of new cinemas is a step in the right direction, it will be difficult to regularly attract people to the big screen when copied DVDs are widely available, Martin Robinson, co-founder of The Flicks Community Movie House, said last month.

“It’s unlikely that Cambodian families will pay $4 each to go to the movies when they can stay at home and watch a film that costs around $1,” he said.

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