Bona cinemas opens in Genting Highlands

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on March 1, 2018.

The VIPs and celebrities seen with a lion dance troupe during the opening ceremony. (From left) Leung, Bona Cinemas chairman Allan Wang Yi, Lam, Yu, Mohd Salleh, Kok Thay, Puan Seri Cecilia Lim, Chee Wah, Genting Malaysia Bhd president and chief operating officer Datuk Seri Lee Choong Yan, Keong Hui and film director Raymond Yip.

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One of China’s largest film distributors Bona Film Group — listed on the New York Nasdaq stock exchange — has opened its first cinema overseas at SkyAvenue, Resorts World Genting (RWG) in Genting Highlands.

Bona Film Group chairman and general manager Yu Dong, at a press conference before the opening ceremony and followed by a special screening of the movie Operation Red Sea at the cinema, said: “I’m honoured to collaborate with Resorts World Genting to open a Bona Cinema outside of China at SkyAvenue.”

Yu said the film company chose to have its first cinema overseas at RWG in Malaysia because of the Malaysian Chinese entertainment market’s strength and the highland resort being a renowned tourist destination for Chinese nationals.

“It is a beginning of many new plans that we have in Malaysia. We are hoping with this collaboration with the Genting Group, we are able to introduce more movies, film stars and entertainment to the Malaysian audience,” Yu said.

There are plans to open more Bona Cinemas in Kuala Lumpur and collaborate with rising young Malaysian directors.

“We are planning to build a Bona Film theme park next to the upcoming 20th Century Fox World theme park [in Genting Highlands]. Our films Operation Mekong and Operation Red Sea will be recreated in the theme park,” Yu said.  

Operation Red Sea is based on an actual event about a China-led evacuation mission during the 2015 Yemeni civil war. Directed by Dante Lam, the movie features Zhang Yi, Du Jiang, Huang Jingyu, Hai Qing and Prince Mak.

It took nine months to shoot the film in Morocco. “We chose Morocco as a film location because its topography and geography are similar to Yemen,” said Yu.

Yu also said the Yemen civil war as a historical event was chosen for the film because such films had not been made for Chinese cinema before. Further, its director has a strong interest in military warfare.  

“Most of the production crew members are Malaysians especially in the assistant director’s team, art and sound department,” the film’s producer Candy Leung said.

“The Malaysian crew members are bilingual, therefore it was easy to facilitate operations with the Moroccan crew. They are hardworking and produce high quality work as well,” Lam added.  

Lam and Candy were present at the red carpet event along with local actors and celebrities.

The grand opening ceremony was attended by Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Salleh Said Keruak, Genting Malaysia Bhd chairman and chief executive officer Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay as well as chief information officer Lim Keong Hui, VXL Group president Datuk Lim Chee Wah and National Film Development Corp Malaysia director-general Datuk Fauzi Ayob.

The event commenced with a lion dance performance followed by a multi-cultural traditional dance by Istana Budaya’s Muhibbah dancers. A ribbon-cutting ceremony by Mohd Salleh also took place to mark Bona Cinemas’ opening. Later, the guests proceeded to watch Operation Red Sea.

Bona Cinemas at SkyAvenue currently consists of four cinema halls equipped with state-of-the-art projection technology, Dolby Atmos surround sound systems and comfortable seats. An additional 48-seat VIP hall and a 250-seat Imax one will be opened in the second half of 2018.

Operation Red Sea made its debut in Malaysia last Thursday and received good reviews. In China, the movie made 1.7 billion yuan (RM1.06 billion) at the box office.