GU tech arm is Asia-friendly

Greater Union projector, sound and lighting equipment installation subsid Greater Union Village Technology (GUVT) has a special relationship with Asia. Of the 240 auditoriums GUVT is set to equip in the next 18 months, 150 will be in that region.

GUVT was established in 1989 as a co-venture between Greater Union and entertainment group Village Roadshow after the two outfits merged their technology and supply divisions.

The past two years have been particularly robust for GUVT, as it established offices in New Zealand and Singapore – the latter under the banner of Intl. Theater Technology (ITT).

A 100% GUVT-owned Singapore registered company, ITT intends to cash in on the foray by its parent companies into the exhibition business in Southeast Asia. In the past 18 months ITT has installed 63 projection and audio sites, with 58 auditoriums to equip in the next six months. ITT also will conduct 40 installations for Village in Asia, on top of its already contracted work for sites in Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong. In the next few months, according to general manager Russell Scott, GUVT also will form joint ventures with local companies for installations in Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines.

“This will dramatically alter the skew of the company. It will have a dramatic effect on our presence in Asia,” Scott says.

At January’s Singapore Cine-Asia convention, Scott says the outfit picked up a large complex installation and was asked for quotes on several upgrades, a growing market in itself.

Back Down Under, GUVT is putting the finishing touches on two suburban Sydney installations – an eightplex in Tuggerah in rural NSW, and a 12-plex in outer Sydney’s Liverpool – for Greater Union.

At present, 35% of GUVT’s work comes from sources other than its parents, but Scott is aiming for a 50-50 split. Cinema accounts for 80%, while the non-cinema component is growing rapidly with theater lighting and audio fitouts and social club installations leading the charge.

With projected revenue of A$20 million ($14.8 million) for the business year ended in June, compared with 1994’s $11.5 million, an average of two major projects worth around $148,220 each are picked up every month, according to Scott.

Organizations fitted by GUVT include Sydney’s EMI studios, the Seven, Nine and Ten Networks, the Australian Broadcasting Corp., the Sydney Opera House and the Adelaide Festival Center, as well as supplying theatrical and special-effects lighting to the Sydney production of “Miss Saigon.”

The firm also fitted the speaker systems and video walls for Village Nine Leisure’s first indoor interactive Intencity theme park in the southern Sydney suburb of Hurstville. Scott expects to capitalize on the Intencity concept as it spreads around Australia and the Asia/Pacific.

Other growing markets for GUVT are teleconferencing and home cinema installations, but with the latter coming at a cost of almost $26,000 each, it certainly is “for the more affluent type of customer,” as Scott puts it.

On the new technology front, a major breakthrough for GUVT has been the development and manufacture of AMX Automation Systems, enabling a multiplex to run from a single control room. Having installed the first unit in September 1994, GUVT is marketing, selling and installing the technology in Australia and overseas, with Scott reporting much interest in Europe. GUVTs Ezymation system, which automates the curtain, lights, trailer and feature cycle for one auditorium, is popular in Asia, Scott says.

Interlocking device

Other projects in development include an interlocking device, allowing the same film to be looped to several screens, and a CD-I-run touch-screen unit for installation in multiplex foyers for viewing trailers, augmenting the current video wall concept.

Scott spearheaded a radical shakeup of GUVT’s traditional pyramid-type organizational structure this year to form a flatter management model.

The decentralizing effect of the reforms has converted each of GUVT’s offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Auckland and Singapore into individual profit centers responsible for their own administration and business development and planning.

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