First Movie House Since ’93 Set For Imminent Opening

The renovated 800-seat Vim­eantip Cinema is scheduled to open early in 2001, giving Phnom Penh movie lovers an alternative to staying at home and watching VCDs, the private company developing the theater an­noun­ced.

Located on Monivong Boule­vard, the Vimeantip will be air-conditioned and feature 30 speakers for surround sound and a 10-meter by 5-meter screen.

Movies will be shown four to five times daily at an affordable price, although that exact price has not been determined, according to Michelle Park, vice president of Pingu BV-Korea Enter­tainment, the developers of the the­a­ter. The first movie shown will be a Cambodian-made production, she said.

Phnom Penh had more than 30 movie theaters before the civil war. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the cash-starved government leased many of the buildings to private investors. Phnom Penh has not had a movie theater since 1993.

“When I talk to young people, they do not even know what a theater is,” Park said. “They are used to seeing the TV screen, which is very small.”

“We know Cambodian people won’t pay a high price to go to movies, because they can always buy a VCD for $3,” she said. “But this is not good for the young generation. They need to go out and see movies that help them learn about their culture.”

Som Sokun, director of the cinema and culture diffusion department at the Ministry of Culture, praised the Korean company for carefully studying the market in Cambodia. He said the people want something new for their eyes and ears.

“Cinema is different from TV, both in sound and pictures,” he said. “This will be a modern theater that meets international standards.”

The ministry has two more buildings that could be made into movie theaters, he said.

“There will be more investors [in theaters] when they see a previous one making a profit,” Som Sokun said.

Som Sokun compared the current situation to a period in 1988 and 1989 when one company star­ted making videos for home TV use, and as soon as they started making money, many other com­panies entered the  business.

“But it costs a lot of money to make a new film,” he cautioned. “A video series costs only $1,200 to make, but we can’t make real art when we’re paying performers and writers so little.

“All the little companies should join together to create a good Khmer film [company] to promote the industry.”


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