Canadia Bank Overhauling Chenla Theater

Only months after the Vimean­tip Cinema reopened, another movie theater is undergoing a facelift that promoters say could help revive Phnom Penh’s once-thriving cultural life.

The Chenla Theater, originally built during the 1960s, is undergoing a multimillion dollar renovation supervised by the Canadia Bank. According to promoters, the theater, located on Samdech Monireth Boulevard near Mao Tse-tung Boulevard, will host public meetings and plays in addition to screening movies in an air- conditioned seating area with a surround-sound speaker system.

Promoters say another movie house is needed to continue the rebirth of the capital’s cultural life. There were dozens of movie theaters in Phnom Penh’s post-colonial period, but none survived the Khmer Rouge regime.

“We lack such multi-function theaters in Phnom Penh,” Cana­dia supervisor Sok Thy said.

The plans call for enlarging the seating area to hold 515 patrons, Sok Thy said.

The original plans called for an even larger seating area, but Phnom Penh officials insisted the theater conform to its original space in order to preserve the building.

Under the terms of the contract, Canadia will lease the building for 50 years. For the first eight years, the bank will pay the Municipality of Phnom Penh $2,000 per month, city finance official Te Bunnarith said. After eight years, the monthly payment will rise in increments until the bank is paying $2,800 per month, Te Bunnarith said.

If the theater construction finishes by January, a deadline Canadia officials have promised to meet, it would be the second major movie house restoration in a year.

Local filmmakers have complained that the lack of movie theaters around Cambodia has held back the country’s film industry.

“Child of the Giant Snake,” one of the first locally produced movies in a generation, did a brisk trade in Bangkok, earning up to $80,000 per day at one point, but made little money in Cambodia because there was no venue to show the film to audiences.


Related Stories

Latest News

The Weekly DispatchA weekly newsletter from The Cambodia Daily delivering news, analysis and opinion to your inbox. Published every Friday at 11:30am. Sign up today.