BANGKOK — One of the countries’ last remaining alternative cinemas will close for good on March 31, one of its founders said.
Impacts from the coronavirus and the shutdown measures were cited for the imminent closure of Bangkok Screening Room – a one-screen theater in downtown Silom known for screening art house flicks, indie documentaries, golden-era classics, and other films alien to the mainstream blockbuster theaters.
“COVID was quite damaging. We tried our hardest to keep it going but this is the most we could do,” Sarinya Manamuti, film buff and one of the three founders said. “We’ve exhausted all our resources.”
The rent contract was expiring, while the theater’s main income, alcohol sales and events, were made impossible by the pandemic. Cinemas were previously ordered to close down from March through May in 2020.
They were later allowed to reopen, although with strict social distancing measures – a sacrifice that large cinema chains can afford, but not a small business like Bangkok Screening Room.
“From 52 seats, we can only sell 24. Even if a show is sold out, the theater is still at half capacity, and it’s not enough to cover the expenses,” Sarinya said.
Out of the four-year-run, Sarinya said she was proudest of holding the theater’s three annual iterations of the LGBT Film Festival.
The theater opened in September 2016 with a screening of Orson Welles’ “The Third Man” (1949), which will also be its final screening. The theater’s final bookings for “The Third Man” as well as “The Godfather” (1972), “The Ugly American” (1963), and “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” (2019) is TBA.
The cinema is located on Soi Saladaeng 1 and can be reached on foot from BTS Sala Daeng exit No. 4 or MRT Lumphini’s exit No. 2.