Farewell to the Scala Cinema in Bangkok, one of the last standalone movie theaters in Thailand

The Scala Cinema in Bangkok's Siam Square closed its doors for good on July 5, 2020
The Scala Cinema in Bangkok’s Siam Square closed its doors for good on July 5, 2020. (photo by Yuan-Kwan Chan)

In the heart of Bangkok stood the Thai capital’s lone standalone cinema – and one of only three left in Thailand. That is, until July 5, 2020, when there were none.

The Scala Cinema, a very striking, Art Deco retro building surrounded by glitzy downtown retail spots and shopping malls, closed its doors for good following a weekend of sold out screenings of Michelangelo Antonioni classics (“Blowup,” “Cinema Paradiso”) and Thai documentaries.

It was recently ruled that the Scala does not qualify to be a historical landmark, which means that this opens the door for it to be completely demolished. (photo by Yuan-Kwan Chan)

Designed by Thai architect Chira Silpakanok, the Scala features a striking interior, with sun-like decorations dotting the main ceiling. The theater opened on December 31, 1969. Over the years, as consumer habits changed, the venue managed to stave off threats regarding a shutdown of this magnificent venue standing on prime real estate.

When these finally came to fruition, some opted to avoid the crowds during the final screenings and visit the Scala – which was semi-open to the public – a little bit earlier. Nearly everybody had the same shell-shocked expression, lingering in the foyer a bit longer than intended and taking one too many photos that would not justify the grandeur of the venue. Hopefully the building will not be completely torn apart and will be re-purposed in the spirit of its original form.

Ed. Note: Unfortunately, The Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project reported on Sep. 26 that the Scala was completely dismantled. Further updates are available on its Facebook page.

Other businesses occupied the Scala building, such as this sewing studio. (photo by Yuan-Kwan Chan)
all photos by Yuan-Kwan Chan
Ukelele player Jake Shimabukuro performs “Dragon” at the Scala in Bangkok on July 3, 2013. Related article: https://www.meniscuszine.com/articles/2013072024499/ukulele-virtuoso-jake-shimabukuro-live-in-bangkok/