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Hong Kong’s Emperor Motion Pictures to Expand Exhibition Role in China

Hong Kong’s Emperor Motion Pictures is to pursue the expansion of its theatrical cinema operations in China despite the dramatic recent slowdown in the mainland Chinese box office.

The company will next year open Emperor Cinemas in megacities Chengdu and Chongqing, both housed within Shin Kong Mitsukoshi department stores. In a statement EMP said that “Emperor Cinemas is poised for rapid expansion across China in coming years.”

EMP, which has well-established film production, investment and distribution operations, was a relative late-comer to exhibition. It opened its first wholly-owned mainland cinema in Hefei in 2015 and expects to open its flagship Chinese site next year at the Emperor Group Center in Beijing.

The Chongqing development will be one of China’s largest with 18 screens and 2,200 seats. The one in Chengdu with have 10 screens, including one IMAX theater.

China’s theatrical box office grew by an astonishing 49% in 2015, hitting $6.7 billion. But after a promising start, growth slowed dramatically in mid-year, putting revenue growth at a current 8%.

Last month EMP revealed that it will also open a flagship cinema in Hong Kong. It will open a four or five screen complex in the iconic Entertainment Building, returning theatrical exhibition to Hong Kong’s Central district. The downtown area was once the center of the Hong Kong entertainment industry, but property rental prices have become prohibitive in recent years causing exhibitors to withdraw to other districts.

“Emperor Cinemas aims to offer the highest quality cinematic experience to audiences, and this coincides with Shin Kong Place’s principles of putting the customer first and enhancing life experiences,” said EMP CEO Albert Lee in a statement.

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