Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Fa Siam Theater - Suphanburi, Thailand

"The Fa Siam Theater: Lert Fa Market," says the sign

While demolition crews merrily stamp-out what's left of Thailand's movie theater geography, a sparse handful eke it out. Infrequent in their placement and - as has been described here on several occasions - sometimes teaming with fiends in the dark, they are nonetheless markers of a fading era in Thai history. Here's a piece of it that's alive, seemingly well and a genuine example of architectural eye candy.

Enter the Market: Starring Fa Siam

The Fa Siam Theater serves as the economic anchor of Lert Fa Market - an open-air fresh market in the heart of downtown Suphanburi. It's one of the few remaining theaters in Thailand that still operates in such an environment. Local vendors lauded the aging picture house for its crowd-drawing capabilities. Everyday around noon, just before the Fa Siam's first daily screening, movie goers swarm the market, bringing a reliable flurry of sales to the surrounding businesses.

Pork satay on sale in front of the Fa Siam Theater.

A frequently ignored, yet highly important aspect of stand-alones - they provide respite for the tired and weary in sitting form. Shelter from the pouring rain or blazing sun can be found beneath the marquee.

These guys were waiting for a van to return them to military duty.

A handsome lobby beckons with arched windows and square columns.

Locals dated the theater to between 30 and 50 years ago. Although its original name survives, the Fa Siam is now a Thana Cineplex - subsidiary of Pranakorn Films and the movie exhibition branch of their vertically integrated triumvirate, which also includes film production and distribution. If you're a regular of the SEA Theater Project then you've already read how regional distributors squeezed the local theater owners of their profits and out of business. If not you can read the version I was told here. Given, it's just one interview and one side of the coin, but it makes for an interesting case study all the same.


There it is, in all its exotic glory: the Fa Siam Theater. Some have said it looks like a jewelry box, others have likened it to a crown. In this photo there's something about it's juxtaposition with the surrounding buildings that reminds me of a blossoming flower.

Fa Siam means Siamese Sky


  1. That's really attractive photos

  2. Hi Phil, I was waiting eagerly that you add Fa Siam as you already used the picture as main page picture of your blog since many months. What about you? Did you find new job opportunity in Thailand? Will a book be published regarding old Thai cinemas? Let me know.

  3. The future is a blur right now.

    I would love to do a book.

  4. OMG this theater really existed??

    I admitted that at first I thought it was a "Photoshoped" theater,since it looked too beautiful to be true.Actually too pristine to be existed today.A big surprise and delight to learned that this kind of theater is still alive and going well.

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