Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Cinemas : Relics of Kuantan

Reading the article on cinemas by stomach of chaos here and here, I decided to delve a little into the memory lane of Kuantan and highlight the heydays of cinemas before the advent of Cineplexes and illegal VCDs/DVDs. Then, the only form of entertainment besides the telly at home would be a night out at the cinemas. Friends would make appointments to meet up, grab a few snack food and watch as the movie played. Families would bring everyone along and sit down for the hours it takes for it to run as the toddler bawls out for all to hear. Cinemas were the social locale for many during the 80s to 90s yet economic measures state that they cannot last. One hit was the wide spread sale of VHS, VCDs and of late DVDs that made for cheap entertainment at home. The second was the new concept of cleaner, more technologically advanced and confortable cineplexes that made the cinemas unpallatable. Culturally too cinema going became less of an appeal with more upcoming entertainment such as discos, bar hopping, and shopping. Closing down, many cinemas are either left derelict or were converted to different uses.

Rex Cinema Posted by Hello

The Rex cinema was situated along Jalan Besar. It was popular because it was near to most places being in the heart of town, the KFC was just a few stores away, bus terminal was just a walk across and countless supermarkets made this area the hub of the town. It was no surprise that the Rex was one of the more visited cinemas in Kuantan. The only problem was parking, often a commodity that is hard to come by especially if there’s a particularly good show on. With limited space in the front of the cinema, people resorted to park all around the back lane that crisscrossed the area. The Rex mostly showed the latest Hollywood fares as well as movies churned out from Hong Kong. Hand painted posters would be hanging from its two large billboards out front. Popcorn, sliced fresh fruits, candy and assorted junk food would be sold at the concession stand. The seating were hard and would often cause your posterior to ache after an hour, the floor was sticky with the cumulative grime and muck, the screen scratchy and sound system was ancient. But it gave hours of entertainment for everyone as the days of pirated VCDs were yet to come. It has now gone the way of classic cinemas, and has been taken over and converted into a furniture store.

Teruntum Cinema Posted by Hello

Teruntum was the main hangout/makeout place in Kuantan for years. As Kompleks Teruntum was the only major shopping mall in the town, everyone was there. It was also situated strategically in the center of town just off Jalan Mahkota and with the convenience of the only underground carpark in the city, people flock there. No matter that the place was dark and cramp with selection of stores that leave you wanting, it was the only happening place with an A&W outlet and the only exhibition space until the more recent Megamall and Kuantan Parade open shop. Teruntum Cinema was located on the highest shopping floor, it had two cinemas and as with the Rex, the usual assortment of concession stands, ticketing booth and cinema atmosphere you’d expect from the olden variety. Two large billboards would be showing off the current film and movies shown are Hollywood flicks, Hong Kong movies and Tamil shows. Now with the decline of Teruntum Complex, the cinema has followed suite, a large for sale/rent sign hangs from its “Now Showing” slot outside and till today no takers have come forth.

Golden Screens Cinema Posted by Hello

Golden was a major competitor to the other cinemas and was situated along Jalan Bukit Ubi. It offered better seating, 3 different cinema screens (thus more shows can be shown for the duration), better quality concession stands and of course was the only one with Dolby Digital Surround sound at that time. A lot of the Hong Kong films were shown here especially the likes of Jackie Chan, Chow Sing Chi, the Hui brothers, Raymond Wong and others of their time. Parking was a major problem as the lot in front of the cinema was a small one, once parked those late comers can expect a long wait as the earlier parkers try to maneuver out of the only exit to the place. GSC is the only cinema to survive but the old block has been abandoned to develop a new Cineplex at Berjaya Megamall. The old building has been converted into a nightclub and pool hall.

There were 2 other cinemas in Kuantan that were operational in the past, both now defunct. I can’t recall their names as they were not too popular with the masses even during the heydays of cinema. One was situated in an empty lot near Teruntum Complex, off Jalan Mahkota and near my mum’s office of H.Y.Lee and Hee. It didn’t have much of a success, focusing more on gaining the patronage of the Chinese and Indian by screening Chinese and Tamil movies. The building is still there and has thus been turned into a furniture mall. The other was situated off Jalan Besar, in the business district and banking row, somewhere about Lot 66 restaurant. It has been through several management changes and in the end also ended up as being converted into a nightclub. If anyone remembers the name of these two cinemas or recalls some forgotten cinema I’ve forgotten to mention do inform me about it. Today only one cinema is operational and it is GSC at Berjaya Megamall, all traditional cinemas have been converted for other uses and defunct.

Forgotten1 Posted by Hello

Forgotten 2 Posted by Hello

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