It's a sad, sad situation.
Scala Theatre, Bangkok’s last standalone cinema, has confirmed that it will be closing its doors to cinemagoers for good next month.
On Jun 23, the historic theater confirmed the news via its official Facebook page that it will be holding a farewell event from Jul 3-5. On Jul 3, the cinema will turn on all its lights to allow photographers and visitors a final chance to capture and appreciate the venue’s architectural significance. Meanwhile, on Jul 4-5, the cinema will team up with the Thai Film Archive to hold its last film screening event called “La Scala”—the films selected to screen are yet to be announced.
Rumors about Scala Theatre closing down originated early this month with a now-deleted post on the Bangkok Critics Facebook page. The theater has been living on borrowed time for a number of years now, and 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.
Built in 1969, the 1,000-seat theater was designed to be the most luxurious 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.
On a recent visit, the signage and letters have been taken down from the front of the building, and inside it appeared dark and empty.