People jam cinemas for movie freebies

PHITSANULOK - Jumnong Pianak and his wife have not watched a movie for more than 40 years. But come Sunday and the couple decided they wanted to be a part of the junta's drive for the end of the colour-coded division.

  • Published: 15/06/2014 at 03:49 PM
  • Newspaper section: topstories

The 70-year-old and his wife, Chanai, 76, travelled from Sukhothai province to the Central Plaza shopping mall in neighbouring Phitsanulok on Sunday morning with family members to be among the early birds for free tickets to "The Legend of King Naresuan 5", which showed for free in 160 cinemas across Thailand.

''We really wanted the tickets after knowing the army would give a free show to help return happiness to the people,'' Mr Jumnong said.

''We want all Thais to realise the sacrifices and the patriotism of Thai kings,'' added Mr Jumnong, who was one of 244 people lucky to get tickets.

People queues up on Sunday for free show at the Central Plaza shopping mall in Phitsanulok's Muang district. (Photo by Chinnawat Singha)

The couple were among tens of thousands who flocked to cinemas in almost all provinces to see the movie for free, many of them arriving at the theatres three hours or more before tickets were handed out for the one-off show at 11am.

As the demand for seats was overwhelming, many cinema complexes had to open additional theatres to serve the patrons - some at the request of the army - including those in Hua Hin district of Prachuap Khiri Khan province and Chiang Mai city.

Several theatres, including the one in Muang district of Yala province, only opened one theatre for the free showing, but offered discounted tickets to other showings for those who missed the chance of the free event.

In Bangkok, a large number of people gathered at various department stores and movie theatres before 10am, waiting in long queues to receive the free tickets.

Theatre staff had to work hard to keep them in order.

All free tickets available at SFX Cinema at Lat Phrao Central Department Store were reportedly given away in 15 minutes.

"I was excited and happy to see the NPCO give people a chance to watch this patriotic movie for free. We want more of this kind of activity to restore peace," said Suda Boonyang, 50, who came from Kantang district in Trang province to SF Cinema City in Muang district at 8am, three hours before the show.

Patamaporn Rattanadilok Na Phuket, a spokeswoman for the National Council for Peace and Order, said the success of the free movie deal underlined joint efforts from all parties to bring smiles and happiness back to Thailand.

"This picture is getting clear in Thai society," she said.

Pol Gen Somyot Pumpunmuang, the deputy police chief, said five companies of police and soldiers were despatched to theatres where anti-coup protesters were expected to turn up to take pictures of them so that warrants could be issued for their arrest later.

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