Even a UNESCO historical designation could not save Thailand’s last classic movie house.
Scala, an icon of art deco architecture, will drop the curtain on its five-decade run in Bangkok July 5. Its lease was up and the advance of the 4D cineplexes and crush of the coronavirus shutdown made it unfeasible to continue.
The 1,000-seat cinema house was designed by Jira Silkanok who patterned it after the Teatro alla Scala opera house in Rome. It bowed on New Year’s Eve 1969 with a screening of “The Undefeated”, a Hollywood Civil War-era western, and sat at the nexus of Bangkok society during all of the 70s and 80s.
As theater chains SF Cineplex and Major Cinema took over the industry, building ever-larger and more-luxurious auditoriums, Scala became Bangkok’s cinema arthouse. Fittingly, it will end its run July 4-5 with a film festival entitled “La Scala”, a play on the Thai word “la” – or farewell.
The selected films for the festival will be “Blow-Up”, a 1966 Italian mystery thriller film directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, at noon; a documentary about The Scala at 3 p.m., and “Cinema Paradiso” at 6 p.m.
Famous for its unique architecture in modern Bangkok, Scala will give photographers and historians one last glimpse of its glorious past July 3 when the theater turns on all its lights.
Also illuminated with be the UNESCO plaque presented in 2019 denoting Scala’s place in Thai history.