Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gloomy Thursday

I had all intentions of making a new theater post today, but I'm so distraught over a certain unfortunate state of affairs that I just had to express myself. You see, it's Thurday in Chiang Mai, usually one of my favorite days of the week. That's because on Thursdays the new movie releases open at the local theaters. Here in little old Chiang Mai there are two operating cineplexes to choose from: Vista, which is locally-owned and has their 7-screen cineplex on top of Central Gad Suan Gaew, and Major Cineplex - the national chain owned by the Bangkok-based Poonworalak family - atop Robinson's Airport Plaza. Between the two theaters there are 14 operating screens in Chiang Mai. Of those 14 operating screens there are two different movies playing, both of which I'd rather stick my tongue in an electric socket than go see.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that what's being shown on Thailand's big screens has as much to do with trends among movie distributors as it does the theaters themselves, but give me a break! This is absolutely pathetic! This is almost a breech of anti-trust law, isn't it? I mean, it's well known that most film production companies cater to the teenage movie-going market, a demographic that is usually more concerned with how they're perceived by their peers than the quality of movies they watch. Market-savy movie producers can get away with creating cinematic puke and still turn a profit because they understand these unfortunate circumstances. But what's the deal here in Chiang Mai? Can't one of the two theaters take the effort to squeeze in something just a little different? The Twilight Saga: New Moon and 2012 is all you're gonna give us?


  1. I feel your pain. It's too bad Vista closed its other theaters in Chiang Mai. They might offer some other choices.

    But I almost welcome weeks like this, when there's nothing playing that I'm interested in seeing. It's a chance to catch up on blogging or DVD viewing at home. I could read a book or even do some traveling. Anything but going to the cinema.

  2. The problem is the same in the heart of Bangkok's movie zone - the Siam Square area. MBK and Paragon are only showing those movies as well. Actually, Paragon is showing "September" as well. But the point is, not a single Thai movie anywhere to be seen. Appalling.

  3. You have a good attitude, your Wiseness. Making light out of even the most grim situations. I respect that.

    It's just a little disheartening when you look back at old newspaper movie sections, like these ones from the Bangkok Post c. 1974 and 1980:

    Almost every theater had a different movie playing, including Hollywood, Bollywood and Bangkokwood(?) contributions. And the Post is an English language paper, so the theaters showing exclusively Thai, or Chinese films didn't bother to advertise with them. Such choice, such variety! Where has it gone to!?

    Given, there were no DVD rental stores with libraries of old films to choose from, so there was less variety in that sense. Nonetheless, it's still a shame that you can't see something different in the theater if you so choose.

  4. Yes, with 14 screens, you'd think the multiplexes would be able to show more than two movies.

    It's hard to know what is coming first. Audience demand for movies like New Moon and 2012 or marketers and theater operators ramming those movies down people's throats, telling them they "must see" those movies?

    It's particularly lamentable in a place like Chiang Mai that has fewer venues and no choice.

    Thankfully in Bangkok, there are still other things to see. Like whatever's playing at the Lido or at House. Going off the comfort-zone reservation of the Siam Square area, there are even Thai films in places like EGV Metropolis opposite CentralWorld, Century - The Movie Plaza near Victory Monument, the UMG RCA or any of the old double-feature cinemas featured here.

  5. Actually, I checked almost every movie theatre complex on the BTS line today, and I found one or two still showing Bangkok's Traffic Love Story. But other than that, it was a solid wall of 2012 and New Moon, with a few other American films thrown in as well. It's not just the Siam Square comfort zone, but the whole BTS comfort zone....

  6. Yesterday I was rummaging through the micro film files at Chiang Mai U. library. In the movies section of the Thai Rath newspaper from July 4, 1975 there are a total 55 movie theaters listed in the Bangkok metro area. That means 55 separate silver screens. Between those 55 listed theaters there were 51 different movies playing, including Thai, Indian, American, French and Taiwanese movies.

    Much like the Bangkok cinema scene of today, the majority of those theaters were owned by two companies: The Pyramid Co. (Apex) and Co Brothers (the Poonworaluk family's original theater business). The diversity of films playing at once, however, is just mind blowing. Looking at the line-up of films today it feels like we're living an Orwellian nightmare, only instead big brother watching over us, kid sister is shoving her teenage fantasies down our throats. I don't want to come off sounding alarmist, but people really have to start demanding more of their theater monopolists!

  7. Yeah, they should offer more variety.