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.

1 comment:

  1. I'm happy to note that though Apex Siam Square has switched mostly to digital, they're still able to show 35mm. This week Terrence Malick's To the Wonder has opened, screening at the Scala in 35.