Major Cineplex was founded by Vicha Poolvaraluk (or Poolvaraluck) in 1996. A member of a family with roots in the movie business (the family was involved in film studios as well as several single-screen theaters), Vicha started out in property development.
In 1992, he was asked by his father, Charoen Poolvaraluck, to take over the movie theater business. Vicha decided on a concept of large movie complexes that could offer a range of entertainment services, including not only movies, but also bowling alleys, karaoke rooms, restaurants and shopping. The first such complex opened in 1996 on Nakhon Chaisri Road in Pinklao, Bangkok. The 14-screen, 4,000-seat Major Cineplex Ratchayothin opened in 1998 and featured Thailand's first IMAX cinema. It was the company's flagship cinema complex until 2006, when Paragon Cineplex opened. Other early Major Cineplex theaters include branches at Ramkamheang and Sukhumvit.
In 2004, Major Cineplex absorbed Thailand's No 2 theater operator, EGV Entertainment, which was Thailand's first cineplex operator. EGV had been owned by a rival branch of the Poolvaraluck family, headed by Vicha Poolvaraluck's cousin, Wichai Poolvaraluck, who started EGV as a partnership with Golden Village.
There are at least 19 Major Cineplex-branded theaters in Thailand, with the number expected to grow in the coming years. The company aims to increase its total number of screens to 500 (including EGV cinemas) by 2012. Major Cineplex's theaters range from shopping complexes, anchored by the cineplex, such as Major Cineplex Ratchayothin or Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, that include bowling alleys, fitness centers, restaurants and shops, to multiplexes that are part of larger shopping malls, such as the Bang Na or Rama III branches in Bangkok.
At the theaters themselves, there is a range of seating choices, including the luxury "Emperor" class, which is similar to EGV's "Gold Class" (see below), and "Opera", which provides a sofa-like seat, designed for couples.
In December 2006, the company debuted another flagship brand, the Esplanade Cineplex, consisting of 13 theaters and a 26-lane bowling alley at the Esplanade complex on Ratchadaphisek Road in Bangkok's Din Daeng district.
Thailand's first cineplex operator, EGV, or Entertain Golden Village, was formed in 1993 by Wichai Poolworaluk's Entertainment Theatres Network as a joint venture with Hong Kong's Golden Harvest and Australia's Village Roadshow (which formed Golden Village).
The first cineplex was opened in 1994 at Future Park Bang Khae. Other branches include the EGV Grand in Siam Discovery Center (opposite Siam Square) and the EGV Metropolis, which anchors a BigC shopping center on Rajadamri Road in Pathum Wan district, Bangkok, opposite Central World Plaza.
Village Roadshow took over Golden Harvest's stake in 2000, and in 2002, Wichai bought out Village Roadshow's 50% interest. The company then merged with Major Cineplex in 2004, putting aside a rivalry within the Poolvaraluck family.
Aside from its EGV-branded multiplexes, EGV has the following:Gold Class – Smaller theaters, located on existing EGV properties, with their own box offices. The screening rooms have around 50 seats, with heavily padded reclining chairs and valet food-and-drink service. Blankets, pillows and foot-warming stockings are provided. EGV was the pioneer in this concept of luxury movie-going in Thailand and it remains popular.
D-Cine – Small, living-room-like theaters where customers can program their own DVD movie showings.
Drive-In Café – A short-lived concept, this was tried in 2004 in an auditorium at EGV Seacon in Prawet district. Featuring a 1950s American drive-in theater motif, the audience sat in automobile-like restaurant booths and could be served hot dogs and hamburgers while they watched a movie.
Opened in early 2006, Paragon Cineplex is on the fifth floor of the Siam Paragon shopping mall. With 16 screens and 5,000 seats, it is Thailand's largest movie theater. It includes the 1,200-seat Siam Pavalai Royal Grand Theatre by Bangkok Dusit Medical Services as well as some smaller Bangkok Airways Blue Ribbon Screens with reclining seats. There is also the Enigma, a members-only cinema.
Thailand's only IMAX cinema is part of the Paragon Cineplex at Siam Paragon. It was formerly located at the Major Cineplex Ratchayothin.
In 2016 Major Cineplex Group has a 6 IMAX Theatre around Thailand including Major Cineplex Ratchayothin, Major Cineplex CentralFestival Chiangmai, Hatyai Cineplex CentralFestival Hatyai, Quartier CineArt The EmQuartier Bangkok, and Westgate Cineplex CentralPlaza WestGate
Opened in late 2006, Esplanade Cineplex is a forth installment of Major Cineplex specialty chain. It's located on the fifth floor of Esplanade Ratchada shopping mall in Dindeang district. With 12 screens, including 2 Cinema Galleries for showing the Experimental film, BSC Diamond Screens with reclining seats, and Dolby Atmos cinema.
However, Major Cineplex has opened a second branch of Esplanade in Nonthaburi Province, and serve Thailand's biggest and largest digital cinema theater "MMAX THEATRE". And provide a same functional of Esplanade Ratchada except Dolby Atmos and RealD cinema system.
An eighth installment of Major Cineplex chain, exclusively built in The EmQuartier Bangkok shopping mall. It is said to be a Thailand first CineArt concept. With 8 screen, including IMAX, Thailand first Laser Projector "AEON THEATRE @ QUARTIER", Thailand and Asean first Screen X theatre, Dolby Atmos and RealD XL theatre, and 4 digital cinemas.
In 2016, Major Cineplex has launched the "M" cinema collection to regrouping the Major Cineplex specialty chain into one cinema group and refers to new boutique cinema concept. It's including all brand of Major Groups cinema except Paragon Cineplex, Esplanade Cineplex and Quartier CineArt.
The "M" cinema collection has a eleventh specialty cinema around Thailand. The chain brand's include:Paradise Cineplex - Located in Paradise Park shopping mall. Designed in Movie Oasis theme.
MEGA Cineplex - Located in MEGABANGNA shopping mall. Designed in Digital theme.
Hatyai Cineplex - Located in CentralFestival Hatyai shopping mall in Songkla. Designed in Crystal theme that related to shopping mall theme. This brand including second upcountry IMAX theatre and 4DX theatre location.
WestGate Cineplex - Located in CentralPlaza WestGate shopping mall. Designed in Digital Edge theme. This brand including IMAX theatre, 4DX theatre, and introducing KIDS cinema a cinema hall for kids.
Promenade Cineplex - Located in The Promenade shopping mall. Designed in Classical theme. This brand including 4DX theatre.
EastVille Cineplex - Located in CentralFestival East Ville shopping mall. Designed in English Garden cinema concept and provide the first eco-cineplex that belong to "Green Ville" concepts of shopping mall. This brand including 4DX theatre.
Diana Cineplex - Located in Diana Hat Yai shopping mall in Songkla. Designed in Movie Relaxation theme.
Ayuthaya City Park Cineplex - Located in Ayuthaya Cite Park shopping mall in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya. Designed in Movie Relaxation theme.
Korat Cineplex - Located in The Mall Korat shopping mall in Nakhon Ratchasima. Designed in Digital Edge theme belong to WestGate Cineplex. This brand including 4DX theatre.
Blúport Cineplex - Located in Blúport shopping mall in Huahin, Prachuap Khiri Khan. Designed in Resort theme belong to shopping mall theme.
While movie theaters are Major Cineplex Group's core business, the company is heavily involved in the bowling alley business, with a total of 360 lanes under its Major Bowl Hit! brand. It also has 222 karaoke rooms.
Major's property development arm leases retail space to outside tenants in its anchored shopping malls. Major Cineplex also has a 25% stake in Siam Future Development Plc (SET: SF), a developer of shopping malls.
The company has also invested in the growing California WOW Xperience Plc (SET: CAWOW), the leading fitness center operator in Thailand. It has 10 branches: eight in Bangkok, and one each in Pattaya and Chiang Mai. It branched off due to foreign ownership rules for the wholly owned Asian subsidiary of 24 Hour Fitness, called California Fitness, and has member swap agreements with both chains. It holds a 36.75% stake in that venture, and consequently, California's Fitness Center branches are becoming part of Major Cineplex's developments.
In 2007, Major Cineplex's ticketing service, Major Ticketing, which sold advance bookings for movies, as well as other events, merged with BEC-TERO's Thaiticketmaster. The merged entity is called Thaiticketmajor.