As Netflix and other streaming platforms become increasingly popular, local moviegoers may opt to stream a movie at home rather than going out, resulting in many movie theaters shutting down in recent years.
Before it is too late, Alexander Synaptic, a Taiwan-based travel blogger, has embarked on a journey to photograph the six most classic movie theaters in Taiwan.
Inspired by fellow blogger Phil Jablon’s recent claim that there are only two classic theaters still standing in Thailand, Synaptic embarked on his vintage “theater hunt,” which began at the Nanshan Theater (湳山戲院) in Taipei.
Synaptic then worked his way south and introduced Tainan’s Chin Men Theater (全美戲院) which was established in 1950. “[This] is undoubtedly the most famous of the golden age Taiwanese cinemas still in business,” he wrote.
The main attraction of the theater not only includes being legendary Taiwanese director Ang Lee’s frequent haunts in high school but also featuring classic movie posters painted by local artist Yan Zhen-fa (顏振發).
Next, Synaptic shared some pictures of the Guoxing Theater (國興戲院) in Miaoli City.
Established more than 70 years ago, the theater is currently under renovation, even though many locals are worried about its future plans to re-open.
Another movie theater which caught Synaptic’s eye was the “White House Cinemas” (白宮影城) in Huwei (虎尾), Yunlin County（雲林).
He revealed that though it opened in 1972, the exterior didn’t look very old.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the theater is not as lively as it once was. The Nantou Theater (南投戲院) is another one Synaptic photographed on his hunt.
According to Synaptic, the history can be traced back to the 1920s. Once on the verge of closure in 2011, “the son of the owner moved back from Taipei to revitalize the theater and keep it going.”
Last but not least, Synaptic documented the Wanguo Theater (萬國戲院) which is a classic theater founded in 1977 in Dalin (大林), Chiayi County(嘉義).
It was renovated by cinephile Jiang Ming-he ( 江明赫 ) and to this day, maintains a busy schedule and various screenings.
Synaptic acknowledged that there may be more theaters out there and vowed to continue on his quest to document more of Taiwan’s cinematic history.
Follow Alexander Synaptic’s blog “Spectral Codex” for more information