2017 is shaping up to be a productive year for The Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project. I feel I can say that with an ounce of confidence. For one, Thailand is about to get its first full revival of a vintage stand-alone movie theater. If you ask me what that means I would say that the tide is changing for these classic structures after many years of steady attrition. Once this first one is on the record, we should start to see more money invested in old theaters as a means of bringing new life to old town cores. Mark my words! It will take some time, but if I know anything about Thailand, it's that once something is done to success it is quickly adopted elsewhere. Anyhow, more to come on that theater revival in due time.
Second, after many years spent pounding the pavements of Thai cities in search of that elusive movie theater form, I've finally got a book coming out. In fact, text and photos are due to be submitted to my publisher this month, so I had better get cracking. Once I have an exact release date and all the finer details I'll let you know. I can tell you, however, that this book is going to be exclusively on the movie theaters of Thailand. Myanmar, Laos and elsewhere in the region will get their own books later.
Third, later in the year I'm going to be working with a Thai filmmaker on a documentary about this project. The past two weeks were spent gathering preliminary footage, which will be edited into a teaser in the coming weeks. The rest of the filming will take place later in the years. Do stay tuned for that!
But before all else, I'm going to be making another survey of Myanmar's historic movie theaters this upcoming February. Last year's trip yielded some exciting new finds and was capped off by an exhibition at Yangon's pioneering Myanmar Deitta photography gallery. Above all, however, the trip opened my eyes to the full extent of Myanmar's vintage movie theaters, and that there are still many in seldom seen towns that need to be documented. A few of them are still in operation.
If you want to pitch in and help draw attention to Myanmar's enigmatic cinema halls, here's your chance. To help offset the cost of this trip, I'm selling a couple of photos and a t-shirt.
The two photographs below were both taken during last year's survey. I'm printing a limited run of 25 each at 14x20 inches. Each photo, signed and numbered, is $70 including shipping. Have a look at them below:
The auditorium of Yangon's Thamada Cinema. Without a doubt, Myanmar's grandest and most luxurious active movie there. At 1,024 seats it's also probably the largest. This photo captures the Thamada's essence in an almost science fiction manner.
The Aung Theit Hti Cinema in the city of Myaungmya, Irrawaddy Region. Although closed for the past 20 years, and allegedly inhabited by an enormous cobra, this humble mid-century movie theater makes for an interesting backdrop to a street side tea shop. Every evening people gather in its shadow to chat over cups of hot tea.
The T-shirt is the result of a recent trip to Bangkok's dilapidated Prince Theater. While rummaging through a pile of debris in a corner of the theater, I came across this flyer advertising a Kung Fu movie from 1969. On the flyer was the theater's classic 1960's logo, which I have had printed onto a bunch of T-shirts. Each shirt is $15 or 3 shirts for $38. Free shipping within Thailand. For shipping outside of Thailand there's an additional $10 fee.
Old flyer for the Prince Theatre, complete with vintage logo used on the t-shirts below.
To purchase a t-shirt, please send me an email at: sea.theater(at)hotmail.com
Either way, stay tuned for new posts about old theaters in Thailand and Myanmar. You can also follow my Instagram account at Phil Jablon or The Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project Facebook page.