Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Chalerm Sin Theater - Bangkok, Thailand

In the late 1940's and early 1950's, the Saphan Kwai region of Bangkok was almost completely rural. Village based wet-rice paddy cultivation comprised the economic mainstay in these northern Bangkok suburbs, though fruit plantations owned by city dwellers were also fairly common. Farm products grown out here were sent by canal, wagon or train into the city center for sale and processing. Post-World War II economic growth, however, meant that Bangkok would soon be bubbling out of its traditional geographic confines, incorporating the adjacent countryside as it grew.

An expanding network of paved roads replaced the canals, wagon trails and short-range train routes, as the primary form of transportation edged towards the automobile. At the same time a growing migrant population meant an increased demand for housing. Those who were keen on what was happening in the Bangkok area and who had the capital to do so, reacted by investing in land. That, in a nutshell, is how the Chalerm Sin Theater came into existence back in 1953.

A foot bridge crosses Pratipat Road in front of the Chalerm Sin Theater. When the theater opened in 1953 there was very little development in this area. The Chalerm Sin was a second-run theater in the rural Bangkok suburbs.

The Chalerm Sin Theater is now owned by a friendly gentleman by the name of Fred Banpreecha, though his father was its founder. In 1953, the Chalerm Sin marked Fred's father's first foray into the world of movie theater proprietorship in Bangkok. Apparently he owned another in Ratchaburi before the Second World War, but got rid of it when he moved his family to the capital. The Chalerm Sin was such a success that over the course of the next 16 years the Banpreecha family opened another 3 theaters (including the Mongkol Rama featured in the previous post).

The letter "sor seua" as in "sin" has gone missing from the old sign.

Fred Banpreecha closed down his Chalerm Sin Theater 7 years ago, though the building has found new use. The space in the front is rented out to a massage shop and the auditorium is currently being remodeled to house several badminton courts. Like most movie theaters outside of central Bangkok, the Chalerm Sin was a second-run theater from the time of its opening in 1953 until it closed. It was the first in a small empire of second-run cinemas founded by the Banpreecha family.

(Chalerm Sin roughly translates to "Great Wealth", though please call me on that if somebody can come up with a better definition)


  1. i think this is also in front of this theater that one of the bomb from the
    "new year bombing" went off ....

  2. New Years Eve 2006, right? Hopefully the theater wasn't the target.