An oasis of entertainment in an otherwise barren land, the theater formerly known as the Jaroenporn rises poignantly from streets of Uttaradit .
The Thana Company is best known for operating multiplexes in shopping centers like Big-C and Tesco Lotus. Those venues aside, a number of years ago they bought up a handful of ailing single-screen theaters throughout Thailand like this one in Uttaradit. Without knowing any details about the company, my guess is that Thana purchases and operates old theaters like this in towns that do not have megamalls or chain department stores large enough to accommodate a multiplex. This was the first of four Thana-owned single-screen theaters that I found on my most recent expedition, though two of them had already been shut down.
Thana Uttaradit Cineplex dates to the early 1970's, when it opened under the name the Jaroenporn Theater. The Thana Company bought it in the late 1990's and has been running it ever since, with two shows daily at noon and 8:30 PM.
I bought a ticket for the 8:30 showing of "Neung," which I walked out of after about 45 minutes - a complete bore instantly banished from memory. The memory of the Jareonporn Theater will remain til the tomb.
Yes, the charms of old movie theaterhood. The screen and auditorium were huge, which I enjoyed very much, but the picture was much fainter than it should have been. The Dolby Digital surround sound, as advertised above the door, wasn't working. Sound was projected from speakers behind the screen, or so it seemed. The already hurting sound quality was further diminished by the hum of a giant air-conditioning unit at the far corner of the auditorium. Basically it was dump, but an edifying one.
Besides myself, there was another 21 people in attendance. At 50 baht per ticket, that means that the theater brought in 1,050 baht (about 37 dollars) for the night show, and they had a staff of about 6 people to pay. It's no wonder these places can't survive.