Friday, April 10, 2009

The Jaroenporn Theater (Thana Uttaradit Cineplex) - Uttaradit, Thailand

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.

Theater lights at night.

Lounging comfortably in the lobby 10 minutes before showtime

"Next program" and "coming soon"

Get your read in!

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.


  1. The lineup of movies is fairly current. Uttaradit is not far behind Bangkok.

    The family that owns Thana also has its own production company, Phranakorn Film. Of course, they show movies from other studios in their cinemas. But coming soon is Meat Grinder - a Phranakorn production.

    That's too bad about the poor sound quality. It looks like a fine place to watch a movie. I'm digging the row of comfy chairs in the lobby.

  2. Thanks WK. I'd been wondering about the Thana company and that sheds little light on things.

    While in Payao I watched "Meat Grinder" at the old Payao Rama Theater (coming soon), now run by Thana. Loved the movie! A really beautifully shot film, including the guts and gore.

  3. Cool website. I'd send you a couple of photos from the 1980s but I don't see an email contact.