Leading Korean exhibitor CJ CGV has announced it has acquired Vietnam’s top cinema chain Megastar Media Company today (July 8) for $73.6m.

With seven multiplexes and 54 screens in major cities around Vietnam including Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, Megastar holds a 60% market share and took in revenues of $23m last year.

Megastar opened its first cinema in Hanoi in 2006 as a joint venture between Envoy Media Partners Limited from the US and local capital. The leading exhibitor in Vietnam, Megastar has assets of $38m.

Since 2006, CJ CGV has been branching out overseas with 7 screens in China and one in the US, and plans to continue its global expansion with this most recent acquisition.

CJ CGV noted: “With a population of 90 million and a steady growth rate at the box office that recorded more than a 20% increase last year, the film industry is going into a long-term growth period. But, as for exhibition, there are only about 50 cinemas with around 150 screens, and even those have facilities or services that fall behind.” 

The company cites recent movements by the Vietnamese government to push ahead with mid- to long-term plans to improve the local film industry and expand the audience base, as well as the 1st Vietnam film festival held in Hanoi last year and the national Co Loa Studio, set to be completed in 2015, as reasons to expect further growth in the local industry.

CJ CGV, whose affiliate CJ Media also has interests in the broadcasting sector, sees Vietnam as an early and strong receptor of Korean Wave pop culture and plans to use the multiplexes as a bridge into Southeast Asia.

Korea’s second largest exhibitor Lotte Cinema was the first Korean conglomerate to make inroads into Vietnamese exhibition sector when it acquired Diamond Cinema Joint Venture Company (DMC) in May 2008. With that deal, Lotte opened its first cinema with three screens in Ho Chi Minh City and three more at its second cinema in Danang. The company quickly opened a third site with six more screens in Ho Chi Minh in December 2008.