The Scala Cinema in Siam Square offers a more modest one-screen experience compared to the large complex situated in Siam Paragon just across the road. Built in 1967, this exquisitely maintained movie theatre is worth a trip not only for the bargain priced seats and popcorn, but also for the retro setting. From the tickets to the building, everything here has been preserved and it is worth a trip just to stand in the domed-ceiling entrance and be transported to another age.
Easy to find, the cinema is located just five minutes’ walk from the BTS station at Siam. Come down the stairs on the opposite side of the road to Paragon and head towards Siam Square Soi 1. From the outside the cinema looks old-world, there are no digital displays here, and the name of the film showing is displayed in red letters, each put up by hand. The Scala cinema is a rarity in Thailand, one of the last movie theatres from times gone by still standing. On Siam Square Soi 2 you will find its partner in crime, The Lido. Less architecturally impressive than Scala but preserving history nonetheless, they both show an eclectic range of films, from large blockbusters to more independent movies from Asia and Europe, ideal for those looking for an indie alternative.
Once you enter the Scala you are greeted by a gigantic chandelier that swoops to almost head height over the double staircase. The entrance hall is the highlight of the cinema, a lofty space with a vaulted ceiling, with large art deco bronzed flowers hanging from each dome. It gives the room an almost religious feel; this is definitely a cinema for those who worship the silver screen. Tickets are ripped from a booklet and your seat number is scrawled on it, no printers are necessary here. A ticket costs 100 baht, and a small box of popcorn will only set you back 30 baht. The ticket and concession stands are large wooden art deco monuments, and above the entrance is a ten metre sculpture showing a potted history of Thailand.
The gentleman who takes your ticket sports a very snazzy yellow jacket and bow-tie combo, and it feels that he too may be stuck in the time-warp that is the Scala cinema. It is well-known that those who work at the cinema tend to stay in the job for life, adding to the history of the building. Inside the cinema is no less impressive, with around 1000 red velvet seats curving around the large theatre. The owners of the cinema haven’t left everything frozen in time, making sure that technology is regularly updated to offer viewers the best experience they can. Although there may be less leg-room than in other cinemas across the city, a visit here is a real treat. Whether you come for the art-house movies, the architecture or some of the cheapest tickets in the city it would be a shame not to experience such a significant part of Thailand’s movie history.
The Scala Cinema
- BTS: Siam
- Address: Scala Theatre, Siam Square Soi 1, Rama I Rd