Last Wednesday, the world's oldest cinema reopened for business after nearly two decades of dormancy. The 114-year-old Eden Theatre, located in the French seaside town of La Coite, was used by the motion picture-pioneering Lumiere Brothers to screen an early work of theirs. Over the next nine decades, the Eden alternated between being a cinema and live theatre before closing down in 1995. Now, following a lengthy renovation, the Eden is back in business as a full-time cinema, with space set aside for a permanent exhibition dedicated to the origins of animated pictures.
With France now claimant to the oldest operating movie theatre in the world, Thailand is in a position to stake claim to the oldest active cinema in Asia. But that claim hinges on a forgotten piece of cinema real-estate getting the same treatment as France's Eden.
Nestled in a corner of Trok Nang Loeng, in the historic Rattanakosin area of Bangkok, stands the Sala Chalerm Thani Theatre. Barn-like in appearance, the mostly wooden structure dates back to 1918 when it was contracted by the Siam Cinema Co under the name of the Nang Loeng Cinema.
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