Being one of the firsts in the country to introduce the cinematic experience, Cathay Organisation the root company of Cathay Cineplexes was established in colonial Singapore as Associated Theatres Ltd. back in 18 July 1935. Cathay began its movie empire by acquiring several existing cinemas in Malaysia and then proceeded in opening its very first cinema, the 1,200 seat Pavilion Cinema in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In 1939, the landmark Cathay Building opened in Singapore premiering Sir Alexander Korda’s “Four Feathers”.
The Cathay Cinema in Singapore was the country’s first air-conditioned cinema and at that time, the first and tallest skyscraper in Southeast Asia. Associated Theatres Ltd was renamed as Cathay Organisation Private Limited in 1959, but not before 1953 where under the late founder; Dato Loke Wan Tho, the company took a big step and delved into film production and formed studios in both Singapore and Hong Kong under the Cathay-Keris Films banner which today, handles mainly film distribution. The company went on for a major expansion as it opened 75 cinemas throughout Singapore and Malaysia at its peak during the 70s. In the 80s however due to the recession, Cathay Organisation sold their cinema operations in Malaysia and converted its stand-alone cinemas in Singapore into multi-screens.
In 1990 Cathay introduced The Picturehouse, Singapore’s first arthouse cinema and in 1997 opened its 6-screen Cineplex, Mega Pavilion Cinema in Kompleks Bukit Jambul in Penang and a year later, Mega Pavilion Cinema at Megamall Pinang, Penang. In 1999, Cathay Organisation established several subsidiaries including Cathay Cineplexes to manage its cinema operations. Today, Cathay offers its cinematic experience to Singaporean cinemagoers at five different locations, including The Cathay Cineplex, Handy Road, Cathay Cineplex Cineleisure Orchard, Cathay Cineplex Causeway Point, Cathay Cineplex AMK Hub and Cathay Cineplex Downtown East. Meanwhile, Cathay currently operates 2 cinemas in Malaysia which is the 16 screen Cathay Cineplex at e@Curve in Mutiara Damansara, and the 10 screen Cathay Cineplex at City Square, Johor Bahru.