Khrungthep has no shortages of new cinemas: every mall has one and all of them feature digital sound, stadium seating, and all of the amenities you would expect from any megaplex cinema in the United States. In fact, there is a shortage of grand old cinemas here even though the city used to be full of them.
These days there are just three cinemas, all owned by the Tansacha family as part of the Apex Cinemas, that are holdovers from the days before multiplexes. Of those, the Siam and the Scala are the two “grand” cinemas whereas the Lido is a series of three smaller auditoriums.
The Scala opened in 1967 in Siam Square. In those days, Siam Square was the only shopping center in Khrungthep, and today it is still the hub of shopping in the city, around which has sprung up an impressive (and seemingly endless) number of malls including MBK, Siam Discovery, Siam Center, and Paragon.
The 900-seat Scala has one of the most beautiful lobbies: it is done in a Moorish style, featuring twin grand staircases, a large chandelier, and a sculptural relief along one of the ways. It also features a hand-painted movie poster – one of the last in the Kingdom. It is changed every few weeks to advertise whatever big picture is coming out soon.
Best of all, the Scala along with its Apex Cinema siblings show a combination of foreign and art films. This weekend, Todd and I went to see Paris j’taime and well as Woody Allen’s Scoop. Not only does the Scala offer one of the largest cinemas, but the tickets are cheaper than at the malls (100 baht versus 120 to 160) and good seats are available even at showtime.