Final curtain drops at Scala theatre

Staff at the 51-year-old Scala theatre on Sunday stand in line to thank the last group of customers who emerged from the theatre which closed yesterday. Fans flocked to the cinema from the early morning to bid a final farewell. (Photo by Varuth Hirunyatheb)

The final curtain has dropped at the Scala movie theatre, which closed on Sunday amid rumours the building will be demolished to make way for a new development by its landlord, Chulalongkorn University.

Management and employees of the 51-year-old movie theatre donned yellow-shirts which read "SCALA 5/7/63 Last Show" to bid a final farewell to the Art-Deco theatre in Siam Square.

Fans of the theatre flocked to the cinema from early morning to take one last photograph, while those with tickets queued to watch the 6pm screening of cult classic Cinema Paradiso -- the Scala's last show.

President of Apex movie theatres Nanta Tansatcha welcomed moviegoers in front of the theatre before the last screening.

"It is heartbreaking. I love the Scala because it is like my home, my family. Everyone here, both the audience and employees, are our family. We selected movies to screen with regard to ethics, morality and lessons the audience will learn from," said Ms Nantha, whose family also runs Nong Nooch Tropical Garden in Pattaya.

The Apex president admitted the Covid-19 pandemic and changing consumer behaviour towards the "new normal" were among the reasons the Scala was going out of business.

"I didn't know if [business] would pick up … so I decided to stop the business now," she said.

Parts and memorabilia from the Scala theatre will be exhibited at Nong Nooch Tropical Garden.

Ratthaphat Sriphisit, a fan of the Scala, said she was sad the theatre is closing down. She had bonded with the Scala since she was in school and she picked up English by watching movies there.

"The Scala is not just a movie theatre, but a memory to a lot of people … I understand that times have changed, but I hope the Scala will not be demolished and its architecture will be preserved," she said.

"The theatre can be adapted for other purposes, so that younger generations can admire its beauty."

Located at Siam Square, which is owned by Chulalongkorn University, the Scala was the last stand-alone theatre in Bangkok.

The university has denied plans to demolish the Scala for now, but a spokeswoman for the university said their property management office is currently looking for a prospective tenant.