Thailand's two leading exhibitors - Major Cineplex Group andEGV Entertainment - are merging to create one of the largest cinema circuits inSouth-East Asia.

Althoughboth companies are headed by members of the Poolvaraluck family, they've beenbattling for market supremacy for the past decade. According to Major Cineplexpresident, Vicha Poolvaraluck, the merger will allow them to cut operatingcosts and expand in Thailand and overseas.

The merged entity will operate 250 screens and hold a 70%share of the Thai cinema market. Thailand's third exhibitor, SF Cinema,currently has a 25% share.

Major Cineplex will have a 65% stake in the merged entitywhile EGV will hold 35%. EGV cinemas will retain their branding and EGVpresident, Wichai Poolvaraluck, will continue to head the company. However thetwo companies will be restructured after six months.

Thailand's fastest expanding cinema chain, Major Cineplexrecently appointed Golden Harvest executive Teerachai Triwongwaranat to thenewly created position of chief cinema officer. It is understood that thecompany is also considering a move into distribution.

The fast-evolving Thai film industry has recently seenconsolidation in other sectors. Three studios, GMM Pictures, Tai Entertainmentand Hub Ho Hin, merged last month to create production powerhouse GMM Tai Hub(GTH).