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Asian cinema group, Orange Sky Golden Harvest is to build an auditorium in Suzhou, China for live performances. The group says that it intends live entertainment to become its engine of future revenue growth.

The 360 Theater Project project, built in co-operation with Suzhou Taihu New City Wuzhong Management Committee, involves the construction of “two state-of-the-art theaters each featuring an advanced 360-degree rotating auditorium that revolves around a panoramic set with total occupancy of up to 2,700 spectators,” OSGH said. A ground-breaking ceremony was held on May 9. The project is set to be completed in 2021 and to cost $85 million (RMB600 million).

“Leveraging on our expertise in movie production and vast network in the industry, the group is committed to the creation of immersive experiences tailor-made for Chinese audience, under collaboration with renowned directors and scriptwriters. The group promises the project to be a highly unique experience featuring local favored stories that combines live theater, musical, smart video, fully integrated into the natural environment of Suzhou, delivered using highly advanced contemporary 360-degree stage around technology imported from Europe,” OSGH said in a statement.

The Orange Sky Golden Harvest 360 Theater (signifies) the group’s first step into the fast growing Chinese live entertainment industry. The group expects live entertainment to become the engine of future revenue growth.. and facilitate the group’s further developments.”

As well as a diversification from cinemas into live theatre, the move marks a return to mainland China, for the Hong Kong-listed company. Golden Harvest was once a pioneer of Hong Kong film-making. When the so-called Golden Era faded, it sold its film catalog and turned to cinema operation, where it was a front-runner in China’s multiplex cinema sector and built an empire in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and mainland China.

But OSGH struggled to make money in Chinese cinema, and sold its entire chain of Chinese cinemas in 2017. That left it as an operator only in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore. Since then, OSGH bought out its joint venture partner in Singapore’s Golden Village, giving it full control of that mature business.

In the year to December, OSGH had almost unchanged revenue of $137 million (HK$1.06 billion). It swung from profits of $6.7 million (HK$52 million) to losses of $4.51 million (HK$35 million).