There were days when Kathmandu's movie-goers were herded into creaky seats, got pushed and shoved, and had to tolerate rowdy crowds.
All that changed with the revamp of Jai Nepal and Kumari cinemas in 2000. Now, Quest Entertainment takes the movie-going experience another leap forward with the launch of QFX: the first movie exhibition brand in Nepal to be unveiled with Central Cinema in Civil Mall, the first all-digital multiplex in Nepal.
"The idea behind QFX is to give a consistent brand experience and quality assurance to the audience," says Bhaskar Dhungana of Quest Entertainment.
Dhungana and his partners, Nakim Uddin and Rajesh Siddhi, could have tied up with an international brand, but decided to go the difficult way.
"We did not want to sacrifice our identity and perhaps half the revenue only for a logo and good management. Our experience in Jai Nepal and Kumari has given us the confidence that we are capable of building a globally competitive brand ourselves," Dhungana told Nepali Times.
This is organic growth from the renovation of Jai Nepal, ten years of running quality movie theaters in Kathmandu, film production and distribution, and even helping the digitisation of cinemas across the country.
With QFX, the group wants to build a modern Nepali brand with global appeal. "QFX exudes confidence, adventure and the spirit of contemporary Nepali youth," explains design consultant Nabin Joshi who helped with the branding of the new venture.
Quest has invested Rs 120 million in launching QFX at a time when most investors are shying away from Nepal. Central Cinema uses state-of-the-art 2K projection and sound technology that is the first of its kind in the region.
Central has three theatres, all 3D enabled, a bowling alley, food court, restaurant outlet, a play-area for children, and is built with handicap-friendly features. Security standards that are consistent with a global exhibition brand have been followed.
"Business is fraught with risks, but what we do know is that quality sells in Nepal," explains Dhungana, "we renovated Jai Nepal at the peak of the war, nobody thought it would work but we proved that the market existed."