Taipei co. puts exhib on block

Closing of Majestic signals end to war between venues

TAIPEI — In another sign of the island’s ailing film industry, the Central Motion Picture Corp. has put its flagship theater up for sale.

Bidding started Tuesday, with a half-dozen companies — mainly department store developers — having expressed interest in purchasing the building that houses both the Majestic and CMPC’s headquarters.

CMPC is the island’s largest production company and also a minor exhibitor, owning three theaters in the capital city with a total of 11 screens.

The imminent closing of CMPC’s Majestic Theater signals to many the end of the war between the megamultiplexes that have mushroomed in the last five years and smaller venues that struggle to attract moviegoers.

The Majestic, a two-screen theater located in the heart of one of Taipei’s busiest shopping districts, has been a staple of film diets since its doors opened more than two decades ago. It is currently the only arthouse theater in Taipei and one of the few that showcases locally produced pics.

The sale of the Majestic has sparked rampant speculation in the film industry that CMPC itself is in financial trouble. CMPC is owned by Taiwan’s major opposition political party, the Kuomintang (KMT).

The party, which ruled Taiwan for five decades before losing the presidency in the island’s second democratic election in 2000, recently splintered into two.

The KMT also has moved to privatize many of the companies it owns amid a call for more disclosureof the finances of what many claim is the world’s richest political party.

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