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Smart snatches up Major Cineplex deal from rival

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Chy Sila (left) and Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart Axiata, shake hands at the signing ceremony for Major Cineplex on Friday. Heng Chivoan

Smart snatches up Major Cineplex deal from rival

Aeon Mall’s Major Cineplex officially ended a three-year partnership with Cellcard as its primary sponsor for both its theatre and its Blu-O bowling lanes on Friday by signing a new partnership agreement with mobile operator Smart Axiata.

As of Friday, the ubiquitous yellow Cellcard logo had been taken down and replaced with Smart’s green insignia.

Often bitter rivals in the Kingdom’s lucrative telecom sector, Smart has been edging its way into the film and television industry through the launch of its SmartOn streaming service for iflix and JaikonTV earlier this year.

Smart’s partnership with Major Cineplex stems from a deal earlier this month after it acquired a 30 percent stake in Sabay Digital Plus which is owned by Chy Sila. While Sabay does not own Major Cineplex, Sila is a member of the board for the theatre.

“We are looking forward to a long-term relationship [with Smart],” said Sila. “We want to create more opportunities for digital production here, and to bring higher-quality movies into our market.”

Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart, said the partnership was “another milestone” for the company and that Smart’s customers that top-up at least $5 to their accounts a month can receive discounted ticket prices.

“If we are making our customers happy then the company will benefit from a satisfied customer base,” he said, when questioned on the sustainability of discounted tickets. “It is a very straightforward business plan.”

Sila hopes the partnership will bring more Cambodians to the theatre and further bolster the movie industry in the Kingdom.

“In general, our expectations are to have more Cambodians coming to the cinema, and partnering with Smart – which has 8 million subscribers – makes it possible for us to lower our ticket fees so that more people can afford them,” he said. “This is not only a benefit for our own company, but a benefit for the whole industry itself.”

Major Cineplex, which is the largest theatre in the Kingdom with seven screens, expects to open two new theatres in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap by the end of the year, as well as in Aeon Mall 2 when it is completed sometime next year.

While Hundt declined to outline future plans for the partnership, he was confident that the agreement was a positive one.

“At the end of the day, the two strongest players in their industries are coming together,” he said. “Major has selected the best network in the country, and we have selected the best cinema in the country.”

Cellcard declined to comment on the termination of its agreement with Major Cineplex.

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