Korean cinema chain CGV seeks to take over global market

November 19, 2015

Korean multiplex aims to have 10,000 screens worldwide by 2020

By Park Si-soo

CJ CGV CEO Seo Jung speaks to reporters at a CGV-owned theater in Cheongdam-dong, Seoul, Wednesday evening. He said he will make the all-out effort to turn the nation's largest multiplex chain into the world's no.1 cinema company with 10,000 screens worldwide by 2020. (Courtesy of CJ CGV)

CJ CGV CEO Seo Jung speaks to reporters at a CGV-owned theater in Cheongdam-dong, Seoul, Wednesday evening. He said he will make the all-out effort to turn the nation’s largest multiplex chain into the world’s no.1 cinema company with 10,000 screens worldwide by 2020. (Courtesy of CJ CGV)

CJ CGV will take over cinema chains in the United States and expand into India and Latin America with an ambitious goal of having 10,000 screens worldwide by 2020, the company’s chief executive said Wednesday.

The plan, if implemented successfully, will make Korea’s leading multiplex company the world’s largest cinema chain that attracts an estimated 700 million moviegoers a year, according to CJ CGV CEO Seo Jung.

The Seoul-based firm is currently the world’s 10th biggest multiplex operator that draws 170 million viewers annually with 1,735 screens at 233 theaters in six countries as of early November ― Korea (971 screens at 128 theaters), China (456 screens at 57 theaters), Vietnam (178 screens at 27 theaters), Indonesia (118 screens at 16 theaters), Myanmar (9 screens at 4 theaters) and the U.S. (3 screens at 1 theater). CGV will open its first multiplex in Malaysia next year.

“My goal is making CJ CGV the world’s largest cinema chain,” Seo said during a press conference at a CGV-owned theater in Cheongdam-dong, Seoul, Wednesday. “There is still a long way to go and there are many hurdles lying ahead. But it doesn’t mean it (the goal) is something impossible to achieve.”

The CEO said the firm’s “aggressive expansion” in the U.S. is crucial to reach the goal. To that end, he said, CGV is considering taking over cinema chains in the U.S., the world’s movie market. Possible takeover candidates include Cinemark and Carmike, among others.

CGV tried to buy Sundance Cinemas, a small American cinema chain, early this year, but the deal fell through for unknown reasons.

“We feel the need to expand the size of corporate body in the U.S. market with mergers and acquisitions,” Seo said. “We keep searching for companies that are worth the investment.”

He said the company will obtain 3,500 out of 10,000 screens through M&As; the rest with own investment or strategic partnerships with overseas cinema chains.

The CEO said the company is interested in what he described as “emerging countries” such as Argentina, Brazil and India, but didn’t share detailed expansion plans for the countries.

He said CGV will continue to bolster its presence in its long-time strongholds in Southeast Asia, especially in Vietnam, Indonesia and Myanmar.

“At the current pace, screens we have overseas will outnumber domestic screens next year,” he noted.

Seo said CGV’s successful expansion in China is also crucial for the company’s globalization, adding it will tighten the partnership with Wanda Group, China’s biggest cinema chain that owns multiplex chains in the U.S., Australia and many other countries.

CGV entered the Chinese market in 2006 under the partnership with Wanda. Its Chinese business turned profitable for the first time this year.

“Things are going well,” Seo said. “We will try to make better performance with our technologies, business knowhow and talented employees.”

CGV is the seventh largest cinema chain in China. China is expected to overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest film market by 2017, according to data from the Motion Picture Association of America.

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