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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Jurong gets Imax

New heartland cineplex is second to get the giant 3-D screen after Lido
The Straits Times - April 5, 2012
By: Kenneth Goh
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Jurong gets Imax -- PHOTO: SHAW THEATRES

A second Imax screen at a cineplex opens in Jurong today at the new JCube mall. So residents in the area need not travel to town to catch the 3-D blockbuster Titanic on the gargantuan screen that has been a hit with moviegoers at Lido.

The 19m-wide, 9.5m-high Imax screen at the seven-hall multiplex in Jurong East is Shaw Theatres' second digital Imax theatre here, after the screen's debut at Shaw Lido cineplex in Orchard Road last May.

While Shaw had always intended to introduce more Imax screens in Singapore, the one at JCube has come earlier than planned because of the huge success of Lido's Imax screen.

According to Mr Mark Shaw, executive vice-president of operations for Shaw Theatres, the Imax theatre plays a 'huge part' in the box-office earnings at Shaw Theatres Lido, which increased by around 50 per cent from May to November last year, compared with the same period two years ago.

The cineplex underwent a major overhaul that took place from October 2010 to May last year.

Mr Shaw adds that the company's Imax revenue of more than $3 million in its first six months of operation has slightly exceeded expectations.

More than 200,000 people have visited the Lido Imax theatre since it opened last May, with the 461-seat hall operating at full capacity for the first two to three weeks of any blockbuster release. The top three highest-grossing Imax films last year were Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, and Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2.

While both Imax theatres boast screens of the same size (19m by 9.5m), their seating capacities vary greatly: JCube's Imax hall has only 160 seats, making it less than half the size of Lido's. Mr Shaw says this is due to 'the space afforded to us in the mall and structural constraints'.

Nonetheless, he says Shaw likes the location: 'We are attracted by JCube's positioning as an entertainment hangout spot, with its ice-skating rink, which is a magnet for young people and families, and our Imax theatre will contribute to this positioning.'

Ticket prices for both Imax theatres are the same, from $17 to $22. Besides the 3-D version of Titanic, James Cameron's 1997 epic romance-adventure, other Imax offerings this year include Wrath Of The Titans, Battleship, The Avengers (3-D) and Men In Black III (3-D).

Residents in Jurong welcome the new Imax theatre in their neighbourhood. Nanyang Technological University student Alan Choong, 23, says: 'I am quite psyched about having the option of watching an Imax movie here, when I feel like treating myself - tickets can be quite expensive.'

Administrative manager Margaret Wong, 50, who watches one Imax movie every two months, says: 'I am glad that there is another entertainment option in Jurong, but hopefully, the Imax theatre here will not be as packed as Lido's.'

Shaw signed an exclusive 10-year deal with Imax in 2010. This means that no other cinema chain can introduce the giant screen format here until 2020. The Imax screens cost US$100,000 (S$126,000) each.

Shaw plans to open a third Imax theatre at Waterway Point in Punggol in 2014. Mr Shaw believes that Singapore is ready for more Imax theatres.

He says: 'Moviegoers here are more receptive to the idea of paying more for an Imax movie, as they do for 3-D films and premium theatre experiences.'

Online writer Wilson Ng, 23, agrees: 'Imax is great for big action movies, as it adds a wow factor,' he says.

However, some moviegoers are more circumspect. Housewife Linnet Chia, who is in her 30s, says: 'I have watched four Imax movies. Although I find them cool, watching these shows can be overwhelming, as there are too many details to take in on an enlarged screen.'

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