Cathay Organisation's history as the forerunner in the local movie entertainment industry reeled off on 18 July 1935 when it was incorporated in colonial Singapore as Associated Theatres Ltd.
Its first cinema, The Pavilion, opened in Kuala Lumpur in 1936.
Significant events started taking shape. Three years later, curtains were raised at The Cathay Cinema on 3rd October to an audience of more than a thousand who watched the premiere of "The Four Feathers" in Singapore's first air-conditioned cinema housed in Singapore's first skyscraper, the Cathay Building.
For the first time, cinema patrons were able to enjoy their favourite movies in "the air-cooled luxury of The Cathay" where "every seat is an arm chair".
Up to 1955, pilots flying into Kallang Airport often used the 79.5 metre-high Cathay Building as a landmark for the final approach.
In 1959, Associated Theatres Ltd was renamed Cathay Organisation Private Limited.
Under the far-sighted guidance of its founder, the late Dato Loke Wan Tho, the company made its first foray into the creative world of film production. From its studio in Singapore and Hong Kong, many award-winning films were produced and played to packed houses.
Cathay was already a household name in cinematic industry throughout Singapore and Malaysia during the 1970s. At its peak, it was operating a total of 75 cinemas. The company's film distribution network also underwent a similarly dramatic expansion which included Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Taiwan in the East, as well as Europe and Latin America.
Changing Times and Innovation
The changing economic situation of the 1980s resulted in a major rationalisation of the cinema business, and Cathay's cinema empire was suitably trimmed. The entire cinema operation in Malaysia was hived off and in Singapore, Cathay closed its drive-in cinema in Jurong.
However, Cathay was quick to innovate and re-invent. In a trend-setting move, its single-screen Cathay cinema at Handy Road was converted into a multi-screen theatre and another cinema located in the heart of Orchard Road was converted into a six-screen cineplex housed within a major entertainment complex.
With superior projection and sound facilities, Cathay Cineplex, Orchard quickly became a top draw for avid movie-goers looking for top-of-the-line cinematic experience.
In the 1990s, Cathay expanded beyond film production, distribution and exhibition into other businesses.
On 14 July 1999, when Cathay Organisation mounted a reverse takeover on IMM Multi-Enterprise Ltd (IME) which was then listed on the SESDAQ. IME was subsequently renamed Cathay Organisation Holdings Ltd.
In December 2000, Cathay Cineplexes Pte Ltd became Singapore’s first cinema operator to achieve ISO 9002 certification awarded by the Singapore Productivity and Standards Board (PSB).
On 1 June 2006, Cathay Organisation effected its voluntary delisting from SESDAQ.
Cathay Organisation Holdings Ltd continues to be committed to providing products and services that consistently meet the highest quality standards in their respective industries.
1930 - 1949 : The Foundation Years
1950 - 1969 : A Movie Empire Emerges
1970 - 1989 : Period of Expansion & Diversification
1990 - 2008 : A Dream Come True