Friday, May 22, 2009

The Pratipat Theater - Bangkok, Thailand

In the years following the Second World War, Thailand came into the American "sphere of influence" as the Cold War expanded into this region of the world. This Thai-American political alliance spread into the business sector, opening the door for American film distribution companies, which began setting up regional offices in Bangkok. One outcome of this was the rise of large first-run theaters like the Pratipat. Soon thereafter, Japanese, Taiwanese, Hong Kong and European film distributors followed suit. By the late 1970's Bangkok had nearly 200 movie theaters, giving local audiences a varied international film fare, along with their own domestic productions.

As the Thai industrial economy grew, a middle class sprung from the old feudal order and theater-going developed into one of the most popular forms of entertainment for Bangkokians. In the 1970's, 80's and even into the 90's, Bangkok was well known for it's giant hand painted billboards strategically placed throughout the city, advertising the latest cinematic releases.

The Pratipat Theater was a product of the post-World War 2 film boom in Thailand. Located on Pratipat Road Soi 18 (if I remember correctly), the Pratipat Theater is within one square kilometer of another 4 theaters. There are likewise a number of aging hotels in the vicinity which by the looks of them were once pretty decent. The area is still densely populated and very active, though I think the glamour that once was departed this section of town a while ago.

The Pratipat Theater was built close to 50 years ago, though it's been decommissioned as a cinema for 10 years now. Like many stand-alone theaters in BKK, the Pratipat became an x-rated theater for some years before it shut down. But in its prime it was a quite classy first-run movie theater, complete with three levels of seating.

That's Mr. Ken in the above photo. He's the guard for the plaza that the Pratipat stands in and a life long resident of this area of the metropolis. According to him the Pratipat specialized in Hollywood films until it switched over to pornography in the late 1980's.

The old Pratipat Theater is now a restaurant.

1 comment:

  1. With reflections hotel on the side it makes for a truly great soi ! I think pradipat is the next place to be.....