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Envoy eyes Vietnam for biz

Gov't granted licenses on Tuesday

HOLLYWOOD — Industry vet J. Edward Shugrue has his sights set on Vietnam.

The former prexy of Loews Cineplex Intl. and longtime prexy of Columbia TriStar Film Distributors Intl. has formed Envoy Media Partners — with Donald L. DeVivo of Mekong Leisure and Richard A. Rosenfield of Asian Capital Partners — to develop entertainment businesses in underserved markets overseas. Its first venture is developing theater complexes and distributing international films in Vietnam, one of the last sizable, virtually untapped markets for cinema.

There are fewer than 100 theaters in the country. The estimated movie-going audience is between 25 million and 30 million people in the cities alone.

The Vietnamese government granted Envoy investment and operating licenses on Tuesday. This allows the setup of Megastar Cineplex, a joint venture between Envoy Media Partners and Phoung Nam Corp., a Vietnamese publisher and publication retail operator. PNC’s director general, Phan Thi Le, will be the local partner of MegaStar Cineplex.

“The licenses allow us to … import film and to distribute those films — after censorship — to our cinemas and in turn to the other theaters operating in the territory,” said Shugrue, Envoy’s CEO. “We intend to import films not only from Hollywood, but also from China, Hong Kong, Korea and Europe … whatever the market’s audience demands.”

— Bobbie Whiteman

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