A tourist brochure for Savannaket city dated the Lao Chaleun Cinema to the 1930's. Since most of it is concrete, I find that hard to believe, but I know very little about architecture or what building materials were used when. Nonetheless, this was was the most edifying abandoned theater I've found to date.
I was told that it was built with the intention of being the anchor for the entire two rows of commercial and residential buildings that it's attached to, an interesting concept in itself. An entire neighborhood built around a cinema!
It is divided into two separate sections. The facade and facilities attached to it face onto Kaisone Phomivan Road, while the main auditorium is in another building in a back alley. A long corridor leads from the front entrance to the auditorium in the rear, while the two sections are connected by a patio bridge. I wish I knew more about that front section. What was it used for? It looks like there was commercial space there. Maybe the theater's offices, or concessions?
That's right, despite the fact the Lao Chaleun has been closed for over 30 years there are still old reels of film lying around.
The temptation to take one of these old reels was there, but just as I was about to do it I recalled the curse of King Tut's tomb.
I've been told this might be the Thai actor of yesteryear Sombat Chareun in the frame. Hard to tell.
This really is a classic structure. Unfortunately, a restoration job seems unlikely anytime in the near future, and in it's present condition I can't see it holding up too much longer. The least we can hope for is that somebody or some entity has the foresight to preserve the facade. After all, it is advertised on the Savannaket guide brochure as a site of historic significance in the city. You'd think somebody would step up and save the Lao Chaleun.