This could be the last year for the historic standalone cinema.
Update: On Jun 23, Scala confirmed via Facebook that it will be holding a farewell event from Jul 3-5, 2020.
The historic theater has been living on borrowed time for a number of years now. While it survived back in 2018 when Lido closed for renovations, the financial losses caused by the Covid-19 closures may have dealt the final blow. According to The Nation, the cinema could be set to shut up shop by the end of 2020, when its lease with landowner Chulalongkorn University expires.
The rumor originated with a now-deleted post on the Bangkok Critics Facebook page. Although there has been no official announcement made by the cinema itself, it remains shuttered following the Covid closures. On a recent visit, we saw the signage and letters being taken down from the front of the building, and inside it appeared dark and empty.
Built in 1969, the 1,000-seat theater was designed to be the most luxurious theatre of its time and holds great architectural significance thanks to its Art Deco design. It is also hugely important culturally, as Philip Jablon, the American photographer and historian behind the Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project, told us in an interview back in 2018: "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."
Scala was named after Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy—"scala" means “stairs” in Italian and, here, references the dramatic flight of stairs that leads up to the theater's atrium and its glittering chandelier. The closure will mark the end of five decades of Bangkok’s precious standalone cinema history. We can only hope that the vintage cinema will have a second coming, a la Lido Connect.