Putting On the Blitz With Indonesian Cinema

South Korea's largest movie theater chain CJ CGV will increase its stake in Indonesia's Graha Layar Prima, the operator of the CGV Blitz movie theater chain in a move to tap growth in the cinema market in Southeast Asia's largest economy. (Photo courtesy of CGV Blitz)

By : Sylviana Hamdani | on 2:46 PM August 09, 2015
Category : Life & Style, Movies, ShowBiz

Jakarta. Few things can carry our imagination away like films. Through engaging stories, acting and music a good movie can simply sweep us off our feet and carry us to a world where anything is possible. Through good movies, we know how it feels to become superheroes, detectives, villains or any kind of character we can dream of. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that movies truly expand our perspectives in life.

Although it is enjoyable to watch a good movie at the comfort of our homes, in pyjamas, with a bowl of steaming Indomie in our hands — watching a movie in a cinema is still much more exciting. Perhaps it's the combined excitement of dressing up to go to the cinema, to see and be seen among hip cinema lovers and to share the great movie experience with them. Or it could be the thrill of viewing the movie on a large screen accompanied with excellent surround sound.

Whatever the draw is, in spite of the advances to home-theater systems we still love going to the cinemas.

Indonesians have always been avid cinema-lovers. The history of cinemas in the country starts during the colonial era, circa 1900s, when a Dutch entrepreneur began screening silent movies with a single projector and live music orchestra in a makeshift cinema theater, known as the bioskop keliling (peddling cinema). 

This makeshift theater could be knocked down and built up in another location to answer the demands of another audience which at that time consisted of colonial families and a few local elites.

Local entrepreneurs then revolutionized the system and brought movies closer to the people by creating bioskop misbar (a local acronym, which literally means "to disband when it drizzles"), with a makeshift white screen erected in an open field and a movie projector. People in the neighborhood gather in the field and pay a pittance to the organizer to watch a movie together with their neighbors — all ready to be disbanded in an instance if it begins to rain.

From those humble beginnings, movie cinemas in Indonesia have evolved to be much bigger, better and more comfortable.

There are now over 800 movie screens throughout the archipelago, operated mainly by the Blitzmegaplex, Cinema 21 and Cinemaxx cinema chains.

Last Thursday, Aug 6, Blitzmegaplex announced its change of name to "CGV Blitz." The change of name marks the collaboration of Graha Layar Prim and South Korean cinema chain, CJ CGV.

"The collaboration is to expand our mission to always look for new ways to improve the quality by bringing out the latest in cinema technology and excellent services, which enable everyone to experience something beyond the movies," said Jeff Lim, the chief executive of CGV Blitz.

‪Blitzmegaplex was founded by a group of local investors in 2004. Their first cinema was set up in Paris van Java mall in Bandung in 2006. Today, CGV Blitz owns and operates 100 screens in 13 cities across Indonesia.

Together with the change of name, CGV Blitz also introduced the new concept of Cultureplex Cinema.

"Cultureplex means that we provide various enjoyment and special experiences, such as movies, food, drinks, music and other entertainment functions at the cinema," said the CEO.

"It's like a cultural playground."

At the press conference on Thursday, CGV Blitz also showcased the glitzy new interiors of its flagship cinema at the Grand Indonesia Shopping Town, Central Jakarta.

After an aggressive renovation over six months the cinema complex, which sprawls over the eighth floor of the mall, boasts massive retro vintage interiors with exposed brick walls, rough cemented floors and ambient lighting.

At its foyer, previews of upcoming movies are projected on the upper walls of its ticketing desks.

Sketches of Indonesian students who partook in a competition held by the cinema chain last month sit in a corner of the lobby.

"We'll hold art competitions regularly at the cinema," said Dian Sunardi, chief marketing officer of CGV Blitz.

Every Saturday night, the cinema chain has arranged to feature local musicians and new bands in the lobby.

At the press conference, CGV Blitz also introduced the new Sphere X studio at their cinema complex in Grand Indonesia Shopping Town.

"It's the largest Sphere X theater in the whole world," said Yudho Rahutomo, head of technical and innovation department of CGV Blitz.

The Sphere X technology has been used in CJ CGV's theaters in South Korea and China before.

The new Sphere X studio, according to Yudho, revolutionizes three of the most important things in a cinema experience — screen, sound and seats. The studio has a huge curved screen which is as large as a basketball court at 26 x 14 meters and is compatible with 2D and 3D movies.

The new studio is installed with over 60 speakers with advanced Dolby Atmos sound technology, giving out clear and harmonized surround sound. The acoustics of the studio are further enhanced by its unique egg-shaped interior.

There are 500 seats and two private screening rooms, which has six seats each. As seen on the opening night, the seats in this new studio are leaner and can be tilted up to 45 degrees according to viewer preferences.

"The combination between the image technology, sound system and comfort of the seats will give you an immersive experience when watching movies," said Yudho.

Chairman of the national creative economy agency, Triawan Munaf, was also present at the launch of the new studio on Thursday.

"I admire [the new studio]," said Triawan. "It's truly a great investment for medium to high-income communities."

However, Triawan urged cinema chains in Indonesia to also pay attention and create similar facilities for lower-income communities and people living in remote areas.

"I'd suggest cinema chains provide more cinemas for lower-income communities and people living in small towns and villages, so that they can also enjoy good quality movies, especially Indonesian movies," said the chairman of the national creative economy agency.

Bernard Kent Sondakh, president director of CGV Blitz, welcomed Triawan's idea.

"Next, we'll have the 'Cinema for All' program, in which CGV Blitz will operate mobile cinemas that will go around to screen movies in small cities that don't have any cinemas yet, so that people in those cities can also enjoy good movies, both as entertainment and sources of inspiration," said the president director of CGV Blitz.  

Ambassador of South Korea Cho Taiyoung was also present at the launch of the new studio.

"I congratulate the new collaboration of CJ CGV and Blitz," said the ambassador. "I believe the collaboration marks another important milestone in the Korea — Indonesia relationship."

In October this year CGV Blitz will again host the Korea — Indonesia Film Festival, which features some of the best movies from the two countries. It will be the seventh edition of the film festival.

"We'll also screen Indonesian movies in CJ CGV's cinemas [in South Korea]," said the ambassador. "And we'll also invite Indonesian filmmakers to Korea to participate in various international film festivals in our country."

"I believe the new collaboration, CGV Blitz, will become a pillar that supports film industries of both countries," said Cho Taiyoung.

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