Friday, September 18, 2015

The Luna Theater - Yala, Thailand

On the main drag of downtown Yala, just a stones throw from the city's lone cineplex, a classic mid-century movie theater stands partially buried behind a frontage of cheap new construction. Fortunately the concealment is only partial, giving the observant passerby a chance to notice the telltale fin sign jutting skywards off of the building's cubist concrete facade.  

From the street, much of the Luna's facade is obscured by a new, frontal addition.

Neon letters spelling "LUNA" in English, Chinese and Thai span the vertical length of the sign, paying quiet homage to the theater's past.

Luna signage 

The Luna Theater was built in 1960, at the height of the International Style movement in architecture. The builder was apparently a Singaporean transplant, which might explain why it has an uncommon aesthetic for a Thai theater (have a look at these Malaysian theaters for comparison). 

Old Luna stayed in business until the mid-1990's, after which its auditorium was gutted and turned into a parking garage. Nothing therein remains that's worthy of documentation.

Parts of the lobby, fortunately, have been spared the hatchet, allowing the decorative details to remain visible for all who enter. In particular, the right lower lobby and accompanying staircase, which once led movie-goers up to balcony seating, seems to be fairly well preserved. If this colorful little sliver of preservation is any indicator, the Luna must have been a sight to see.

The Luna lobby, now part of a spa facility

Tiled flooring and stair in the lower lobby.

In its current iteration, the Luna Theater has been largely given over to a beauty spa. For this, the owner has smartly made use of the old theater's decorative lobby splendor. Beautification of the female form in an artfully designed cinema lobby: What a combo!

Ascending the wrap-around staircase like countless movie-goers from decades passed.

Inside the projection room.

Like a pair of rusted cannons on a forgotten battlefield, the Luna's carbon-arc projectors stand as a hidden reminder of the past. 

Diesel generator, suggesting that Yala City did not have a steady electricity supply when the Luna Theater was built in 1960.

Luna signage - more akin to theaters from neighboring Malaysia/Singapore than Thailand.

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