A look-back to a thriving Filipino moviegoing culture with standalone theaters

WATCH: Filipino standalone theaters enriched our movie culture

The Philippines used to keep an enriched moviegoing culture. That is largely owed to the standalone movie theaters as ubiquitous then as shopping malls are now in the country. This, as you know, is no longer the case—at least the part about standalone theaters.

NXT’s mini-docu (embedded above) looks back to a time where Filipinos giddily flocked to the likes of the Odeon, Capitol, Lyric, and the Times Theater. These standalone movie theaters held star-studded premieres, both local and foreign. They could typically seat thousands of movie-goers. They also would let patrons stay for longer even after the movie credits roll. “Our cinemas became the center of Filipino social activity,” recalls film critic and professor Nick Deocampo.

When shopping malls became the default leisurely setting for the modern Filipino, our movie theaters had to adapt. Cinemas become housed inside malls, and standalone theaters had to close down in the face of a ruthless, ever-shifting economy.

Today, moviegoing is something almost exclusive to the middle class. As filmmaker and director Joey Reyes points out, Filipino families—even those who don’t always have the means—still watch movies. In fact, they do so every year, as though it was tradition, during Christmas.

Having said all of this, the big takeaway from the doc is that though standalone theaters are all but ghosts of a fondly-remembered culture, Filipinos still have a strong desire to watch movies, even if its means and venues are changing.

Watch NXT’s full five-minute documentary in the embedded video above.

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