Sat, Sep 11, 2004 - Page 10 News List

High-end cinema hopes to entice specialist audience

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The nation's first high-end cinema located in a five-star hotel opened its doors in Taipei yesterday, aiming to eventually lure viewers interested in independent productions.

Situated in The Westin Taipei, the 50-ping (165m2) Ta Chien Cinema (大千電影院) is equipped with 15 sets of sofas and 30 tea tables to offer moviegoers the same comfort and privacy they can enjoy at home, Sean Chuang (莊秀石), president of Leofoo Development Co (六福開發) and owner of the hotel, said at a cocktail reception yesterday.

Ticket prices are set at NT$350 per person, which includes parking. The hotel's diners or guests will only pay NT$280, according to public relations official Joyce Weng (翁宜茜).

In the initial stage, the NT$10 million cinema will screen films twice a day from Monday to Thursday, with three or four showings from Friday to Sunday, Weng said.

"My long-term idea is to transform it into an exclusive venue screening independent or art films, like some cinemas in Tokyo," said Chuang, who also operates the Changchun theater (長春戲院). "Or it could be used to hold a small film festival," he said.

With 23 movie theaters in Taipei alone scrambling for a part of the market, he said the cinema business has become less profitable. At times only 20 or 30 seats are occupied in theaters that can accommodate more than 100 people.

Chuang said if the public accepts the refined, pricier approach of the Ta Chien theater, he would not rule out the possibility of redesigning the Changchun theater based on this model to carve out another niche market.

Currently, Changchun houses four big showing rooms -- one with room for 300 people, one for 200 people and two for 100 people each.

Although his passion for films has motivated him to spearhead a new business model, Chuang acknowledged that it would take time to see whether this innovative concept works.

"I have faith that it will become popular among celebrities or big bosses who need privacy in their personal life," he said.

During this month through next month, Ta Chien will be playing Hollywood films such as The Bourne Supremacy, which started yesterday and The Terminal, which starts on Sept. 17.

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