Monday, April 29, 2013

The Odeon Theater - Georgetown, Malaysia

A small mountain of guest material has been accruing in my inbox for several months. Posting them has been delayed due to mountains of work on the home front. Regrettably, none of that work involves documenting stand-alones myself. But that shouldn't stop you from enjoying the work of others. Here's one of them while I have a minute. 

These images of Georgetown, Malaysia's Odeon Theater were gifted by one the SEAMTP 's most devoted fans - Regis Madec - who writes that the Odeon is the only operating stand-alone theater left in the entire province of Penang. According to Mr. Madec, the boxy International Style picture house was erected in 1947, went out of business for a while years later, but was recently purchased and reopened by a group of Indian entrepreneurs who have since turned it into a Bollywood theater.

The Odeon's moniker is a classic name for a movie theater . Inspired by the ancient Greek word for amphitheater and meaning "singing place," the term has been applied over the years to some of the most luxurious movie theaters across Europe and the US. 

In Southeast Asia the name Odeon was no less common. The Odeon Cinema in Singapore was the flagship theater of the prolific Cathay theater chain. Other Odeons existed in Bangkok, Thailand and Vientiane, Laos. But those ones have all since closed down.

This Odeon, fortunately, is still in operation. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Press among expatriates

A three page spread in Expat Ladies in Bangkok about the Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project.

Click on the link below and go to page 45 to read more.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thonburi Rama Theater shows its final film

Barely one week after a Thai news special reported on the imminent closure of Bangkok's few remaining second-class movie theaters, one of them has already gone out of business. The Thonburi Rama on Charansanithwong Road was the most central of Bangkok's last 5 remaining second-class theaters. The 4 that remain are all on the city's outskirts, or in adjacent provinces.

While the report cited the inability of the theater's owner to pay for a much needed upgrade to digital projection systems, it seems more likely that land redevelopment pressures in the form of sky-rocketing land values was the prime motivator. Rumors abound that a Sky Train line may be coming to the area, which would make the old Thonburi Rama a vastly under-performing use of space compared with, say, a 30 story condominium or office tower. Stand-alone movie theaters, bare in mind, occupy sizable footprints. Theater owners are by default landlords on a large scale. And the fact that digital projection is a costly upgrade doesn't help things.

Needless to say, this marks another loss for Bangkok's movie-going culture of yore, which by now is almost completely beholden to shopping malls and 2 ubiquitous entertainment conglomerates - SF Cinema and Major Cineplex.

As for the remaining second-class, double feature theaters in Bangkok, one source says that the Nakorn Non Rama and the BMC Dao Khanong are likely to make the switch to digital - a switch that will hopefully prolong their existance as temples to leisure for a few more years.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Digital killed the stand-alone

According to this report, the last of Bangkok's 2nd-run movie theaters are under imminent threat of closure. The only way to stay competitive in the movie exhibition market these days it to upgrade to digital projection systems, but under-capitalized 2nd-run movie theaters can't afford the high cost of the upgrade. 

The report is in Thai, but there are some good shots of Bangkok's last operating stand-alones for those who can't understand.