Cathay Organisation Holdings Limited is one of Singapore's leisure and
entertainment groups. It has the first
THX cinema hall and digital
cinema in Singapore. The group has operations in
1.1 The early years
1.2 Studio operations
1.3 Growth of the cinema empire
1.5 Revival of Cathay
1.6 New millennium
2 Current Subsidiaries
3 Past Subsidiaries
4 Cathay Cineplexes
4.1.1 Current locations
5 Hangout Hotels International
7 See also
9 External links
The early years
The Cathay, formerly the Cathay Building, opened in 1939. Its front
was gazetted as a national monument on 15 February 2003 with its front
facade preserved to its 1930s state and the rest of the building
Cathay Organisation was established on 18 July 1935 by Dato Loke Wan
Tho and his mother,
Mrs Loke Cheng Kim
Mrs Loke Cheng Kim as Associated Theatres Ltd. In
1936, the company opened its first cinema in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia,
the Pavilion, with 1200 seats. The year 1939 saw the landmark Cathay
Building open in
Singapore with the
Cathay Cinema premiering Sir
Alexander Korda's Four Feathers.
Cathay was the country's first air-conditioned cinema i.e. Cathay
Cinema and the first skyscraper, the tallest in Southeast Asia during
that time. It was the first time patrons could watch movies
air-conditioned and sitting in a comfortable armchair. It was also
used as a landmark by pilots as a final approach before landing. Three
years later, it showed its last show and was converted into a Red
Cross casualty station. After the end of war in 1945, Cathay reopened
and it was Singapore's first cinema to show American and British
pictures as its first screening after closure. It signed a joint
venture with another company to distribute mobile films to villages
and estates in Malaysia. The group installed a new air-conditioning
plant in 1948 and they started to acquire many cinemas in Singapore
In 1953, Cathay-Keris Films was formed. The studio, situated in out in
East Coast Road, produced its own films in the Malay. These were
former barracks occupied by the Japanese and were converted into
processing labs, sound studios, offices and even a canteen. That year,
Cathay-Keris produced Singapore's first colour film, Buloh Perindu.
More than 100 films were made at Cathay Keris's studios between 1953
and 1973 including five Pontianak movies; Pontianak (1957), Dendam
Pontianak (1957), Sumpah Pontianak (1958), Pontianak Kembali (1963)
& Pontianak Gua Musang (1964). Sadly the first two classic
Pontianak films are long lost.
Loke Wan Tho
Loke Wan Tho acquired Yung Hwa Studio in Hong Kong in 1955. In
1956, Motion Picture & General Investment Co Ltd (MP & GI) was
formed. It took over the running of Yung Hwa Studios in Hong Kong. MP
& GI was later renamed
Cathay Organisation (HK). Some of MP &
GI's most popular stars were Ge Lan also known as Grace Chang, You
Min, Lin Dai, Peter Chen Ho, Chang Yang, Betty Loh Ti, Lin Tsui and
In the 50s and 60s, under Dato Loke Wan Tho, Cathay Organisation
produced many award-winning and popular shows from both its Hong Kong
Singapore studios. Today, the Cathay Classic Film Library has more
than 300 Mandarin, Cantonese and Malay titles.
Growth of the cinema empire
Associated Theatres Ltd. was renamed
Cathay Organisation Pte Ltd in
1959. In 1964, Dato
Loke Wan Tho
Loke Wan Tho died in a plane crash in Taiwan. His
brother-in-law Choo Kok Leong took over the chairmanship of the
Cathay Organisation established Singapore's first public
bowling centre, Jackie's Bowl. Cathay Organisation, then a major
shareholder of Jackie's Bowl, diversified into the bowling arena by
acquiring the remaining shares in Jackie's Bowl and operating it under
the name of
Orchard Bowl. The company was subsequently renamed Cathay
Bowl Pte Ltd in 1995.
Cathay's Jurong Drive-In cinema opened on 14 July 1971 and was, at
that time, the first of its kind in
Singapore and Malaysia, and the
largest in Asia. The 5.6 hectare site was equipped with 899 speaker
stands, 300 seats at the gallery for walk-in customers and the screen
was elevated 25 feet from the ground. Cathay distributed Golden
Harvest films and when Jurong Drive-In screened Bruce Lee's Big Boss,
the line-up of cars was so long that many got out and walked.[citation
needed] The show was scheduled for midnight but didn't start screening
By the 70s, Cathay's cinema empire expanded to 75 cinemas in Singapore
and Malaysia. It was also a reputable film distributor, with networks
spanning Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Taiwan,
and as far as Europe and Latin America.
Responding to the changing economic environment of the 1980s, Cathay
Organisation rationalised its cinema business, selling out their
cinema operations in Malaysia. In Singapore, Cathay closed the only
drive-in cinema in Jurong and chose to move with the trends and
operated only cineplexes. It converted its stand-alone cinemas into
Revival of Cathay
In 1990, Cathay opened The Picturehouse, Singapore's first arthouse
cinema and the following year,
Cathay Cinema was converted into a 3
screen cineplex. The 1990s saw Cathay Bowl opening bowling alleys in
major parts of the island. Cathay Properties was incorporated,
providing property management and maintenance services for facilities
operated by Cathay itself, as well as commercial and residential
properties held by its affiliated companies in 1994.
closed its doors in 1995 for redevelopment. In 1997, Cathay
Cineleisure Orchard opened at the former
Cathay Cinema site with the
6-screen Cathay Cineplex. That same year, Cathay opened its 6-screen
cineplex, Mega Pavilion Cinema in Kompleks Bukit Jambul in Penang,
Malaysia. A year later, Mega Pavilion Cinema opened at Megamal Pinang,
Cathay Cineleisure Orchard
Cathay Cineleisure Orchard with reflection of neighbouring Orchard
The Cathay Cineplex
Orchard used to be the largest multiplex in the
country with 12 screens. It has since been surpassedby Golden Village
VivoCity which has 15 screens.[dubious – discuss]
Cathay opened a 34 lane bowling alley in Endah Parade,
Kuala Lumpur in
Orchard Cineplex (Hall 3 & 6) and The Picturehouse were named
"The Best Screens" in a survey conducted by
The Straits Times
The Straits Times in 1998.
In a "Nominate your favourite cinema" contest conducted by Adpost,
Cathay Cineplex Orchard
Cathay Cineplex Orchard was voted the runaway favourite.[citation
needed] Mega Pavilion in Kompleks Bukit Jambul was voted the Second
best cinema in
Malaysia by listeners on a Malaysian radio
Cathay Organisation Holdings Ltd became a public-listed
company on the SESDAQ with five wholly owned subsidiaries; Cathay
Cineplexes Pte Ltd (cineplex operations), Cathay Bowl Pte Ltd (bowling
centre operations), Cathay-Keris Films Pte Ltd (film acquisition &
distribution), Cathay Cineleisure International Pte Ltd (entertainment
centre management) and Cathay Properties Pte Ltd (property management
services). The company also launched a new corporate identity.
Cathay Bowl became Singapore's first bowling centre operator to be
awarded ISO 9002 certification by the Productivity and Standards Board
(PSB). Cathay took a 19% stake in ACEL International Holdings Ltd,
which offered educational enrichment programmes and it was renamed
Cathay ACEL Pte Ltd.
In 1999, Singapore's first bowling alley to offer cosmic bowling was
opened by Cathay Bowl; the 24-lane Cathay Bowl at SAFRA Tampines.
That same year, Cathay Cineplex
Causeway Point opened marking Cathay
Cineplexes' first foray into the suburban districts.
Entering the new millennium, Cathay opened its five-screen Mega
Pavilion Cinema at City Square in Johor Bahru,
Malaysia in 2000.
Over in Singapore, Cathay received license from the Singapore
Broadcasting Authority to operate video-on demand service in Singapore
from June 2001. The company also launched its automated phone booking
system for movie tickets while Cathay Cineplex Cineleisure Orchard
underwent a facelift. Cathay Cineplexes became the first cineplex
Singapore to achieve ISO 9002 certification.[citation
needed] That same year, the
Cathay Building on Handy Road closed for
The following year, Cathay Cineplexes launched it e-Ticketing facility
on its website for customers to purchase movie tickets online. Cathay
Bowl opened 24 lanes at SAFRA Yishun and 22 lanes at Cathay
Cineleisure Orchard. Cathay Bowl became, at that time, Singapore's
largest bowling centre operations with 8 bowling centres and a total
of 178 lanes. To promote the sport, the Cathay Bowling Academy was
established with structured training programmes by qualified bowling
Also in 2001, Cathay opened two Mega Pavilion Cinemas in Penang; a
four-screen cineplex at Prangin Mall and 5-screen cineplex at Island
The Cathay undergoing redevelopment with the tower block still under
construction. The shopping mall and multiplex have since opened.
In 2002, Cathay Bowl opened 24 lanes at THE CHEVRONS club while Cathay
Cineplexes introduced its drive-thru ticketing kiosk at Cathay
Cineleisure Orchard, a self-service automated ticketing kiosk at
Cathay Cineplex Orchard
Cathay Cineplex Orchard lobby and also introduced SMS ticketing.
The following year, the historical Chinatown Majestic Theatre was
converted into a shopping centre. Cathay opened The Majestic in
Mega Pavilion Cineplex at Bukit Jambul in
Malaysia went through a
facelift. At the same time, in Singapore,
EZ-Link payment was
Cathay Cineplex Orchard
Cathay Cineplex Orchard and Cathay Bowl providing an
alternative payment for customers.
That same year, Cathay Cineplex launched Singapore's 1st Digital
Cinema. Cathay Cineplexes became the first to introduce commercial
films in digital format in Singapore. It also opened three more halls
Orchard and became the first cineplex to introduce 24-hour movie
screening in Singapore.
Hangout Hotels was incorporated in this same year and opened its first
"no frills, just fun" concept hotel; hangout @ mt emily.
Cathay ACEL was renamed Cathay Ed-Ventures Pte Ltd in 2004 and
shareholding was increased to 95% stake. Cathay Ad-House Pte Ltd was
formed to provide advertising and marketing to the group's business
More new initiatives were introduced by Cathay Cineplexes. A 24-hour
movie express automated ticketing kiosk was opened at
Station and dispenses movie tickets at time of purchase. Cathay
Cineplexes also introduced the first PDA ticketing system in November
2004 for its cineplexes in Singapore.
Cathay hosted and organised the first Malaysian Film Festival in
Singapore showcasing cutting edge Malaysian-made films to the
Singapore audience. Received with much enthusiasm and support[citation
needed], this festival continues to be on Cathay's annual calendar of
Cathay-Keris Films formed a joint venture with Prime Movies
International. The joint venture company, Cathay Prima Pte Ltd, was a
collaboration to develop and produce theatrical and television films
and series, including titles from cathay-Keris' classic film library.
In 2005, hangout @ mt emily becomes a licensed Hostelling
International (HI) operator for the Youth Hostels Association
Singapore, YHA(S), which is an associate organisation of the
International Youth Hostel Federation (IYHF).
In a collaboration with F & N Coca-Cola Singapore, the Coke Red
Lounge, the first of its kind outside of the USA, opened at Cathay
Cineplex Cinelesiure Orchard.
In July, Cathay Cineplex
Cineleisure Orchard emerged tops in 10 of the
12 categories in The New Paper poll for best seats, best popcorn, best
Cathay Cineplexes Sdn Bhd's fourth Mega Pavilion Cinemas in Malaysia
was opened in Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of Sabah.
That same year, Cathay opened the largest cyber games centre E2Max @
Cine L9 at Cathay
Orchard Cineleisure. E2Max @ Cine-L9 features over
200 PCs and consoles, including Xbox and internet surfing services,
with different genres of games in varying configurations and levels
for single or multi-player gameplay, a special ladies game
area[clarification needed], 20 enclosed private cyber-gaming rooms,
the Moto Music Zone and food & beverage facilities.
To complement E2Max @ L9 and to meet with consumer demands, Cathay
Cineplexes opened three new E-cinemas at Cathay Cineleisure Orchard.
These electronically enabled cinema halls allow for alternative
showcase alternative forms of entertainment i.e. live sporting events
like the World Cup, Premier League and Champions League matches,
awards ceremonies like the Oscars and Golden Globes and even local
entertainment events like
Singapore Idol. With these 3 new screens,
Cineleisure Orchard had largest number of screens
under one roof.
On 23 March, redeveloped Cathay building, now known as The Cathay,
hosted a private party to over 1,000 invited guests to mark its
The Cathay opened to the public the next day with 8 cinema
halls, including The Grand Cathay & The Picturehouse. The Cathay
also features retails and food and beverage outlets. Opening in the
second phase are
The Cathay Residences.
In May, Cathay Cineplexes hosted a party to mark the opening of its
flagship cineplex at Cineleisure Damansara in Kuala Lumpur. Cathay
Cineplex Damansara with 10 screens opened and in conjunction with the
opening, Cathay Cineplexes effected its change in name from Mega
Pavilion Cinemas to Cathay Cineplexes.
In June 2006,
Cathay Organisation effected its voluntary delisting
In October 2006,
The Cathay Gallery at
The Cathay on Handy Road
The Cathay Gallery features the history of the Loke family and
their various business interests in
Malaysia and Singapore. A
collection of memorabilia related to their businesses and personal
interests are displayed in the gallery.
In November 2006,
Cathay Organisation rationalised its business
operations and sold its bowling operations to Family Leisure Pte Ltd.
In November 2017, Cathay Cineplexes Pte Ltd; a subsidiary of Cathay
Organisation was acquired wholly by mm2 Asia Ltd
Cathay Organisation has subsidiaries in
Singapore and Malaysia,
in cinema operations, film distribution, film acquisitions, hotel
management, investment holding, advertising, events management and
Cathay-Keris Films Pte Ltd
Cathay Cineleisure International Pte Ltd
Cathay Properties Pte Ltd
Cathay Consultancy Services Pte Ltd
Cathay Ed-Ventures Pte. Ltd
Cathay Leisure Holdings Pte. Ltd.
Hangout Hotels International Pte Ltd
Cathay Ad-house Pte Ltd
Cathay Cineplexes Pte Ltd
Singapore manages Cathay Cineleisure Orchard, The
Cathay, Cathay Cineplex Causeway Point, Cathay Cineplex AMK Hub,
Cathay Cineplex Downtown East, Cathay Cineplex
West Mall Cathay
Cineplex Jem and Cathay Cineplex Parkway Parade. Cathay Cineplexes is
not part of the Cinematograph Film Exhibitors Association.
As on Nov 24, 2017 Cathay Cineplexes was acquired by mm2 Asia Ltd.
Cathay Cineplexes runs 64 screens in 8 locations in Singapore
3D Digital Hall
Platinum Movie Suites
Ang Mo Kio
Hangout Hotels International
Hangout Hotels is a budget hotel chain of Cathay Organisation.
The Cathay cinema theater that was once present in
Saigon during the
1960s was the namesake of Đại Cathay, an infamous mobster of Saigon
during that time who was known as the "number one" of the "Four Great
Kings" or underworld kingpins of
Saigon at the time.
List of cinemas in Singapore
^ "mm2 acquires Cathay Cineplexes Pte Ltd".
^ Vy Tường (2016-02-08). "Cuộc đời
Đại Cathay - trùm giang
hồ Sài Gòn xưa". VnExpress. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
^ Dang Bui (2014-05-13). "Gangsters of Saigon: Dai Cathay - Part 1".
Saigoneer. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
^ Lê Hoàng (2015-09-11). "Vì sao
Đại Cathay được coi là
Đại ca của các đại ca Sài Gòn?". doisongphapluat. Retrieved
^ THANH THỦY (2014-10-05). "Thế giới du đãng Sài Gòn
trước 1975 (kỳ 1): Đại Cathay, "bố già" của Sài Gòn".
Lao Dong. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
Cathay Website Corporate History
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