Thai-based movie theatre company Major Cineplex said it will build “a high-end lifestyle and entertainment complex” at the Aeon mall in Phnom Penh, hoping to capture Cambodia’s youth market in what it believes is a stable business environment for its entertainment products.
While it sees prospects in Vietnam and Indonesia, Major’s director of business development, Jim Patterson, said Cambodia is its next most attractive location, due largely to its commercial rental market stability and cost effectiveness.
“The problem is finding a reasonable landlord and rent, with a reasonable location and a reasonable upside, and Cambodia met the criteria first,” Patterson said.
“Aeon are very respected mall-builders. They are also a very respected landlord... We will have to be patient; Cambodia is not the biggest market or the highest-income market, so we are being realistic.”
Local operator Platinum Cineplex’s director, Chy Sila, said the market is very young with huge opportunities that can be realised through education.
“We have to explain the market to people,” Sila said.
Patterson likens Cambodia’s potential to that of Thailand 17 years ago, when there were just a few standalone cinemas and Major opened their first Cineplex to much scepticism. Today, the company has more than 400 screens in Thailand, with 100 more planned this year.
“What we have found is if you create a destination that people really want to go and hang out at, then it works,” Patterson said.
“It’s going to be a change for sure, but it will be adaptive.”
While smaller-scale local film provider Flicks Movie House targets Cambodia’s expat population, it is also wary of competition heating up in the cinema market.
“It’s only been two years since big-screen theatres like The Cineplex and Legend Cinema have existed and offer Western-style cinema experience in Cambodia,” said Ramon Stoppelenburg, manager of Flicks Movie House.
“I expect more to come, but eventually some can’t survive in such a small market, and the best one sticks around.”
Major Cineplex hopes to partner with a local provider.
It will open with seven screens and 14 bowling lanes within a nightclub-style environment.
Aeon mall will begin operating in mid-2014.
To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel de Carteret at [email protected]