Top Women in Global Exhibition 2019: Suvannee Chinchiewchan, SF Group

Earlier this year, Boxoffice Pro partnered with Celluloid Junkie to present the fourth-annual list of Top Women in Global Exhibition, published in our CinemaCon issue. Throughout 2019 and early 2020, Boxoffice Pro will continue to honor the women who have an immeasurable impact on the exhibition industry with a series of in-depth profiles.

As the second biggest cinema chain in Southeast Asia’s biggest cinema market, Thailand-based SF Group is aggressively determined to grow through expansion, technology, and expanded content offerings. As SF Group’s chief marketing officer, Suvannee Chinchiewchan, has worked with distributors to ensure that SF Group’s broad range of films—including everything from Hollywood product to local films to the lineups of the Bangkok ASEAN Film Festival and French Film Seasons—finds its audiences. 

What methods has SF Group found most successful when it comes to increasing audience awareness about upcoming film releases?

For upcoming film releases, in-theater media such as trailers, posters (both digital and print), banners, and video walls still prove to be effective among regular visitors of our cinemas. For occasional visitors, however, out-of-home media are more impactful in attracting them to come see the movies. Meanwhile, online media and social marketing have become increasingly important.

When it comes to promoting upcoming titles, it is more difficult to promote local releases or giant Hollywood tentpoles? Does SF Group work with local community groups to promote these local titles?

Promoting local films and Hollywood blockbusters is different, and one of the challenges is that Thai viewers prefer Hollywood films to local films. From our side, we suggest the right timing to Thai filmmakers to ensure that their release date is optimized and does not clash with Hollywood blockbusters. We also help promote local films by working with Thai celebrities and organizing film events to generate a buzz. Group bookings for students and communities can also help bring excitement. 

What’s your proudest achievement of your time so far at SF Group?

I am proud to have established great relationships with Thai independent filmmakers and to see that independent film distributors have chosen SF Cinemas as the venue for their films. We have our film festivals, and we showcase documentary films to offer a wider array of experience to moviegoers as well. 

What is the biggest challenge facing exhibition in Thailand today?

The biggest challenge facing Thai exhibition today is quite the same as in other countries, which is the disruption of online channels. 

What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever gotten?

Our cinema business is a dynamic business, so we need to plan everything in advance and foresee every problem that might arise to ensure that our customers will have a great time.

Can you describe a formative moviegoing experience from your childhood? 

When I was young, my family would go see a movie to celebrate a special occasion. After the movie, we would go have a meal together before returning home with a fulfilled heart. 

How many theaters does SF Group currently operate? Are they all in Thailand?

SF Group currently operates 398 screens on 64 sites nationwide, only in Thailand.

Do SF Cinemas have a loyalty program? How does SF use customer data to better market movies?

SF Cinemas has a loyalty program through our membership card, which offers discounts as well as points and rewards. We have started to use customer data to encourage moviegoers to increase their frequency of film watching. 

When did you join SF Group? How did you come to work there?

I joined SF Group in 2003. Before joining SF, I worked in the real estate business and shopping center management.

How would you evaluate the progress women have made in the exhibition business in Southeast Asia over the past few years?

I have had the honor of knowing many remarkable women in the exhibition business, most of whom are in top management level. Working in the exhibition business is 365 days a year, and it requires passion, devotion, and patience. These are qualities that women have.

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