News Column

BEYOND CINEMAS

July 4, 2014

By Euden Valdez, The Manila Times, Philippines

July 04--SMLEI takes entertainment to a whole new level

In a span of two months, Philippine cinemas have opened highly anticipated box-office films from Hollywood. Just in May alone, Godzilla lorded the big screen, followed by X-Men Days of Future Past, and finally the mesmerizing Angelina Jolie-starrer Maleficent.

In June, How to Train your Dragon 2 and Transformers: Age of Extinction, which is still showing locally, drew throngs to movie houses.

Next week, expect Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to become the new blockbuster.

With all these happening in local cinemas, there is no reason for Filipinos to miss movie dates, especially on weekends, if it were up to SM Lifestyle Entertainment Inc. (SMLEI). It is for this reason that the company has opened up about 50 branches of SM Cinema nationwide, as well as an experience that is fun and convenient over all.

From West Avenue to SMLEI

According to Stephanie Heneras, public relations and social manager of corporate marketing, SMLEI is "the lifestyle and entertainment solutions arm of SM Prime Holdings Inc."

Launched in March, she noted, however, that it was West Avenue Theaters Corp. that has been handling SM's cinemas since 1985. "[The division was] used to be called West Avenue Theaters Corp. It started in 1985 hand--ling only SM Cinemas, which wasn't even called that at the time. It was only there to complement the whole leisure experience of the mall."

Under the leadership of Edgar Tejerero, West Avenue slowly transitioned to SMLEI, and SM Cinemas officially became a brand.

"Our president, Edgar Tejerero joined the company in 1998. And he was tasked to make the cinemas bigger than they were--not just a business that complements [the malls] but a brand of its own. Thus SM Cinema came to be, the major market shareholder for cinemas and exhibitions with 60-percent ownership," Henares added.

Today, the official said that SMLEI has expanded into a full-blown solutions company with 12 major properties including SM Cinema, IMAX Theatre, WM Cinemas, SM Skating Rink, SM Bowling Center, Exploreum (former SM Science Center), Snack Time, e-PLUS Tap to Pay, e-PLUS Digital, SM Tickets and Mall of Asia Arena.

Asked why they consolidated all the brands under SMLEI, Henares answered, "We felt that West Avenue does not resonate who we are anymore and thought it was really time for a change after more than two decades. We did it for the Filipino community. Our relaunched mission and vision is to provide lifestyle and entertain- ment experiences to complement the Filipino lifestyle."

Different moviegoers

After introducing the new SMLEI, Henares who was joined by Ria Canteras, senior manager for corporate marketing, elaborated on the different cinemas now operated by the solutions arm.

First and foremost is the SM Cinema that caters to most Filipinos. Then there is the IMAX Theatre, the larger-than-life, 3D cinema franchised by SM. Price differences between the two are double the amount, with SM Cinema tickets ranging between P200 to P250, and IMAX tickets fixed at P500.

Henares then talked about the newly acquired Walter Mart Cinemas. She related, "Walter Mart Cinema is some--thing that has been entrusted to us recently. We are now handling and operating Walter Mart Cinemas, and we've made it 100 percent digital. They are in areas that are untapped by SM Cinemas."

For Canteras the company's top of the line cinema experience can only be had at the Director's Club (DC) Cinema with its personalized service.

According to Henares, the DC Cinema is SM's deluxe movie theaters, and are available only in four locations: MOA, SM Aura, Megamall and BF Paranaque.

She noted, "This one is for those who prefer to laze around. Sit in lazy boy chairs, call the butler and have free popcorn. The screen is big enough for a regular cinema but it only sits around 40 to 60 people at most."

"We try to hit all the classes that we can in the Philippines," Henares added.

She then announced more exciting news for SMLEI--its newest project, which is the soon-to-open 4D cinema at SM Mall of Asia.

One-stop-shop

For SMLEI, convenience is key to having a truly fun experience whenever watching movies. Because of this, the company thought of ways to improve food and ticket purchasing.

Henares said, "Our president thought what could we do to make it [cinemas] better? So he opened Snack Time, which is its own food concession. It has movie related merchandise, popcorn, take home things, chips, sandwiches."

After the snacks solution, a convenient ticket purchasing experience comes next. For this, SMLEI has SM Tickets, which does not only cater to tickets for the cinemas but also concerts at the Arena, other major events, amusement parks, as well as hotels stays and airline bookings.

"We wanted to make it the whole package. For example, someone from the province is watching the One Direction concert, he can buy concert, airline and hotel tickets in one go at SM Tickets," Henares noted.

But convenience does not end there as SMLEI also handles the e-PLUS Tap to Pay, a reloadable wallet, which can purchase tickets and snacks for customers with just one tap. e-PLUS further provides holders special discounts and points.

Next up

Contributing to the enrichment of Filipino culture, SM Cinema is currently playing host to the World Premieres Film Festival by the Film Development Council of the Philippines. It opened on Wed--nesday and will be shown until July 8 at SM North Edsa, SM Megamall, and SM Mall of Asia. The public may watch an array of international movies that made the top list of FDCP.

Also scheduled for this month are the NCAA and UAAP tournaments.

In support of the Filipino talent, the Mall of Asia Arena will have the talented Gary Valenciano on its stage in August for Gary V. Arise--the Repeat concert on August 2.

Finally, the SM Science Discovery Center will be relaunched as "Ex--ploreum" come mid-July. Exploreum is a total immersion experience now featuring allnew interactive exhibits, which will cover a wide range of topics related to life on earth and the fundamental nature of the cosmos. It aims to further develop the imagination and knowledge of the Filipinos especially the young ones.

"There are exciting things to come. For SM Lifestyle Entertainment, we keep on innovating to give convenient and fun experience in any of our properties," Canteras ended.

___

(c)2014 The Manila Times (Manila, Philippines)

Visit The Manila Times (Manila, Philippines) at www.manilatimes.net

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Source: Manila Times (Phillipines)


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