Bangkok to lose one, potentially two, cinematic icons. 

 

Bangkok is set to say farewell to one of its oldest independent cinemas, with confirmation Lido Multiplex will close forever in mid-2018.

Widespread rumors took off late last year that landlord Chulalongkorn University was preparing to demolish Siam Square’s iconic Scala and Lido cinemas, which date back to the late 1960s.

Chulalongkorn University’s property management office confirmed the impending demise of Lido—long-renowned as a hub of art-house cinema—in a statement posted to Facebook over the holiday period, but were more ambiguous about the fate of neighboring Scala Theater. 

“The building [Lido] is no longer in a safe condition for visitors,” reads the statement, adding that renovations of the complex will commence in May. 

In a somewhat surprising twist, the statement says the future of Scala—the more iconic of the two cinemas—is not yet clear, and hints that any decision to demolish it would ultimately belong to theater owner Apex.

“We don’t want to lose Scala as well,” reads the statement, pointing to the Art Deco theater's architectural significance, while also insinuating that Apex is unable to keep up with the financial losses involved in running the cinema. 

In a recent interview, Philip Jablon, the American photographer and historian behind the Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project, spoke to us about the cultural importance of Thailand's standalone cinemas. 
 
"Thailand’s culture is so rich, and that extends to the country’s standalone cinemas. But many people—and the government—seem ignorant to this priceless culture," Jablon said.
 
"Standalone cinemas are historical both in terms of architecture and social context. Siam Square was just another neighborhood until Scala and Lido were built. These two cinemas have played a significant role in building up this city, so we need to respect them and try to preserve them. Once they’re gone, they’re gone forever."
 
For now, Lido's last events are slated to be the International Film Festival in April and Silent Film Festival in May. Since rumors of both cinemas' demolition spread last week, #SaveScala has been one of the top trending hashtags on Facebook and Twitter.