TV Times

Cinecity-3 provides a new experience
There was hardly anyone to encourage film producer and entrepreneur, Buddhi Keerthisena, when he introduced the concept of multiplex theatre to Sri Lanka at Cinecity cinema in Maradana a year ago.

The pioneer of this concept, Mr. Keerthisena who believed that his invention was the only way to overcome the challenges to the cinema of today including the television, has seen crowned with success his daring effort today. Successfully completing with two theatres, the third theatre ‘Cinecity-3’ was declared open last Thursday (August 5) amidst a distinguished gathering including Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse.

Mr. Buddhi Keerthisena owner of the Cinecity theatre spoke to the TV Times on how his idea became a success. TVT: What was the initial reaction to this novel idea; multiplex theatre system?

Mr. Keerthisena: Frankly nobody understood the concept at the beginning and therefore there was no one to encourage me. Even some big names in the industry discouraged me advising not to take the risk and that I would end up being bankrupt.

TVT: But when you go down memory lane what do you think about your concept? It has proved that our audiences have accepted this concept. It had proved its effect having the highest collection seat-wise throughout last year.

And now I think it was not the audience that feared this concept but those in the industry believing in traditional systems and fearing to take challenges. This is a common problem in our country. It is very difficult to get adapted to a new way of thinking. For example a similar situation arose when there were plans to introduce supermarkets to our country. But now supermarkets have gone to villages too.

TVT: Compared to the traditional theatre, cinema halls under multiplex system have limited number of seating facilities?

Big theatres could be a reason for the failure of cinema industry. And we have no idea to build big theatres and keep 60 to 65 % of them empty. The three theatres with all the latest facilities have a less number of seats compared to other film theatres in the country. The first two had only 340 and 310 seating facility and the latest has only 230.

TVT: Even though you promised to screen films in all three languages, there was hardly any Sinhala film released in Cinecity?

We initially made agreement with the National Film Corporation to screen the film released under NFC circuit but we were not provided films and the Corporation had let us down with the agreement.

This resulted in us not taking films from other circuits also. In fact we wanted to give our filmgoers a place to view Sri Lankan films and thus develop the industry. However we have made arrangements to screen Sinhala films from other circuits and the first Sinhala film to be shown at Cinecity-3 was “Salamuthu Pinna” released by EAP Films.

TVT: Do you have any plans to screen adults’ only films in Cinecity?
We will not screen low grade sex films in any of the cinemas because our target was to provide a place for family entertainment. And we do not want to undermine the intelligence of our audience by screening these types of films. But we will not stop screening high standard local or foreign films with love scenes.

TVT: There is an allegation that the tickets are priced out of reach of the ordinary audience in these theatres?

Any ticket in our theatres is priced Rs 160/= with latest sound systems and other theatre facilities including comfortable seating arrangements and air-conditioned . There are some theatres with higher prices and these are also patroniced. We have an audience prepared to spend money for a new experience by seeing a good film in a good place and Cinecity is for them.


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