Cinema will be operated by Lark International

HONG KONG — Hong Kong is to get its first IMAX cinema. New screen will open in June as part of a new six screen multiplex being constructed at the MegaBox shopping and leisure complex in Kowloon Bay.

Cinema will be operated by Lark International, which already runs half a dozen multiplexes in the territory under the UA brand.

First movie on the screen is set to be “Spider Man 3″ with “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” to follow on July 13.

Lark and Imax say that they have plans to open a second giant screen in Hong Kong in 2009, but they did not specify the location. Unconfirmed local sources say that it is likely to be at another giant retail development adjacent to the new airport on Lantau island.

There are already eight IMAX screens in operation in mainland China. But Lark is expanding there too. Lark and IMAX say they have plans for a further five in Southern Chinese cities of Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Wuhan and Hangzhou.

Like other Hong Kong-based exhibition groups Lark benefits from the third draft of the ‘Closer Economic Partnership Agreement’ between Hong Kong and China. CEPA III allows Hong Kong firms to own majority holdings in mainland multiplex chains. Operators that are not Chinese and not from Hong Kong are prevented from owning majority stakes in Chinese movie theaters. With no prospect of this being softened Warner Bros. Int’l Cinemas recently sold its string of Chinese ‘plexes.

MegaBox, which has no connection to South Korean conglom Mediaplex, which operates multiplexes under the Megabox brand, is part of the Kowloon Bay development near the old Kai Tak airport. Operated by Kerry Properties, MegaBox may become a nexus for home improvement stores with both European giant B&Q and Australian group Spotlight opening warehouse-style outlets there.

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