SM set to launch more IMAX theaters; P120-M cinema opens in North Edsa Thursday, July 16, 2009
Philippine Daily Inquirer, By Doris Dumlao
TYCOON HENRY SY’S SM Shopping mall chain is beefing up its cinema business with the launch of more premium theaters, beginning with the opening today of a new IMAX theater at SM North Edsa.
Following the successful introduction of two- and three-dimensional theater experience at its first IMAX in Mall of Asia, the SM group will start operating today its second IMAX Theater in the Philippines. Located at the second level of the SM North Edsa’s main building, the P120-million theater will be equipped with the world’s most advanced digital theater system.
This will also mark SM’s 206th cinema all over its 34 shopping malls nationwide.
The first IMAX theater opened at the SM Mall of Asia in 2006. The SM group is also bringing the IMAX experience to Cebu in November or December this year and open the fourth in 2010 or 2011 in a new SM shopping mall now being constructed in Taguig across from Market! Market!, West Avenue Theaters Corp. senior vice president Edgar Tejerero told reporters at the launch of North Edsa IMAX yesterday.
Cinema ticket sales from SM group’s 127,000 theater seating capacity contribute about P2.5 billion in annual gross sales booked by publicly listed mall developer SM Prime Holdings Inc. In the first half of this year, cinema attendance has grown by about 3-4 percent, with Mall of Asia as the highest grossing mall, he said.
Tejerero said the IMAX cinemas required investments that were seven times bigger than that of regular cinemas but were a good way of attracting the AB market who spend more when they go to the malls.
Based on the profile of cinema patrons, he said the ones who would go to the regular cinemas would mostly watch with their friends and go home after watching the movie. About 70 percent of them use public transportation.
“The IMAX patrons, they usually watch with their family and 60 percent use their own vehicles and they go to the mall and shop,” he said.
But unlike the Mall of Asia IMAX theater, which required the construction of an 8-story building to accommodate a screen with the height of 24 meters, the second IMAX theater in North Edsa as well as the succeeding IMAX theaters will be shorter in height at only 14-16 meters. But they will still be bigger than the regular cinemas, which have screens of 8-10 meters in height.
The new IMAX theater in North Edsa will have 472 seats, while the one in Cebu will have 500. The IMAX theater in Mall of Asia has a seating capacity of 576.
With the IMAX now repositioned to feature Hollywood films, average occupancy rate is about 70 percent. This is higher than the occupancy rate in regular cinemas, which vary between 14 and 16 percent.
The IMAX system had its roots in the Expo ’67 in Montreal, Canada, where multiscreen films were the hit of the fair. A small group of Canadian filmmakers and entrepreneurs decided to design a new system using a single, powerful projector rather than the cumbersome multiprojectors used at that time. The result was the IMAX motion picture projection system, which revolutionized giant screen cinema.
Today, the IMAX theater network consists of more than 250 IMAX affiliated theaters in 36 countries of which 60 percent are in North America.