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Bangkok cinema's golden age ends as curtain falls on Scala

Demise of famed theater leaves new generation of independent movie houses

Bangkok's Scala theater on the night of July 5, when the iconic building hosted its final screening. (Photo by Yukako Ono)

BANGKOK -- The closure of Thailand's best-known stand-alone movie theater in early July marked the end of an era for Thai cinema, completing the replacement of the capital's large independent picture houses with gleaming but bland megaplexes. Yet an appetite for independent films has seen growth of small, arthouse cinemas in Bangkok.

The city's small but enthusiastic following for independent cinema was evident on July 5, as nostalgic moviegoers flocked to bid farewell to the 51-year-old Scala theater in Siam Square in central Bangkok. The final screening was the 1990 Oscar-winning Italian classic "Cinema Paradiso," which features a bygone movie theater.

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