Movie Theatres in Bangkok
Video of Movie Theatres at Siam Paragon at bottom of this page.
Bangkok also gives you ample opportunity to view (mostly) blockbuster movies in comfortable modern theatres.
Nowadays there are hardly any more stand-alone movie theatres (you will find the Lido, Scala theatres at Siam Square), but most theatres are incorporated in small shopping arcades, or bigger shopping centers.
Overall, the market is dominated by some major chains.
The largest cinema group is the Major Cineplex Group. Another group is SF Cinema City Organization, which operates SF Cinema City complexes in Bangkok. SF Cinema City also operates under the name SF Multiplex. SF Central World Cinemas (at Central World Plaza) also belongs to this group.
Many theatres are scattered around Bangkok. They offer quite comfortable seating, very good quality of sound (a bit loud) and picture, all at an attractive price. Standard fare seems to be between 120 and 220 baht per ticket (prices are low, but have gone up quite a bit the last few years). Wednesday seems to be a discount day at many locations, tickets often at 100 baht or so.
Most multiplex theatres offer also movie viewing in smaller theatres, with reclining seats, a free drink, some more privacy at rates of 300-600 baht. But take if from me, the regular seats are more than comfortable enough.
Siam Paragon Cineplex offers excellent value for money movie viewing.
What is on offer? Mostly all the recent Hollywood blockbusters. They are mostly shown in Bangkok at the same time as in U.S., probably to avoid loss of revenue due to piracy. Typically a recent movie will be shown at ALL locations, sometimes in more than one theatre at the same multiplex. You will have difficulty finding lesser known movies in Bangkok.
Most movies are preceded by prolonged advertising. It can go on for more than half an hour. A few minutes before the main feature, the Royal Anthem is played, and you stand up to pay your respect.
Movies are usually not shown for prolonged periods, but disappear after a week or two. Weekends and first showings can be very busy, but during the daytime on a regular weekday, you will find a lot of empty seats.
Almost always the English soundtrack is used with Thai translation.
It is easy to know which movies are currently shown, but knowing the exact schedule is another matter. The advertisements in the English-language publications such as the Bangkok Post and the Nation leave much to be desired. Scheduling can be found on some of the movie theatre websites (see below). When looking for screening times, you should attempt to notice the different times for screenings in the regular theatres and in the smaller luxury theatres (300-600 baht range).
Traditionally, there are no late night movies shown.
Ticket boot for KrungSri IMAX theatres.
We suggest you go to movie theatres located close to the skytrain stations.
Siam Paragon Cineplex is located on the 5th floor of the Siam Paragon Shopping Center (located at Siam Square main skytrain station). Try to find an elevator to get there, otherwise you will need to negotiate quite a few moving escalators. There are 9 regular theatres at Siam Paragon and 5 IMAX theatres. There are a few smaller luxury theatres.
If you want to avoid the prolonged advertising, we suggest you stay outsite the theatre in the separate plush lobby, and enter approximately 20 minutes after the announced screening times.
Getting a ticket can be a slow process, with a lot of casual talking going on between customers and ticket providers. As in other theatres, on wednesdays there are cheaper tickets for most movies, at 100 baht.
We also suggest you use the bathrooms before entering any theatre at Siam Paragon. Bathrooms are located quite poorly, a few hundred meters away, with poor signage provided.
Krungsri IMAX Theatre shows a different type of movies, and mostly caters to nature lovers, but also some 'regular' movies in IMAX format. There are different seating arrangements and prices are between 200 and 350 baht a ticket.
Theatres showing 3-D movies have also been added recently.
There are a lot of theatres at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld. Since this is a huge shopping center, it takes a while to get to the upper floor where the theatres are located. Last time we visited we paid 180 baht for a regular ticket. It takes a little walk (about 600-800 meters, we reckon) to reach CentralWorld from the Chitlom BTS station. Tickets are discounted to 100 baht on wednesdays, good to know if you are on a tight budget.
We did not visit yet, but if you want a luxury movie viewing experience, you can check out Embassy Diplomat Screening at the newly opened Central Embassy. Located adjacent to Phloenchit BTS station. It offers luxury seating for couples, with just about 30 people per theatre.
SFX Cinema at Emporium (Phrompong skytrain station) is also easy to reach. However, there is a minor problem when exiting the theatre after closing time (of the shopping center), when you will be directed to the car park basement, and then will have to try to find your way back to Sukhumvit Road.
The Major Cineplex Sukhumvit is relatively close to Ekamai Skytrain station (about 500 meters walk, but you have to cross a rather 'nasty' street to get there).
The cheapest movie viewing is available in the original (before the arrival of the multiplexes) movie theatres on the south side of Siam Square. Along the skytrain station you will find two separate smaller theaters, named Lido and Scala. There were three theatres until recently, but the Siam Theatre has been burned down after riots in 2010.
The former competitors are now grouped together as the Apex group of cinemas. Tickets are 100 baht. The seating arrangements are adequate and clean, but not fancy. When visiting these theaters, you are visiting Siam Square proper, a conglomerate of smaller shops. In the daytime, it is interesting to walk around there a bit, and look at all the trinket shops, fashion wear, tattoo shops etc.
Lido & Scala : lower prices, much less advertising is shown, and scheduled time of screening corresponds closer to the start of the featured movie.
These small theaters also sometimes get it right, when scheduling films. They often screen movies that are not available for view at the major multiplex theatres. Personally, we always check first if the movie we are interested in viewing, is shown at one of the Apex theaters. As you see on the map, choose your direction wisely when you take one of the three skytrain exits. Lido is located right on the main street, Scala is in a side street (towards MBK Shopping Center) but clearly visible from the main road.
The prior Siam Theatre is going to be replaced with a shopping center. The Lido Theatre will be dismantled and make place of indeed, yes, another shopping center. Courtesy to Chulalongkorn University, the owner of the land.
RCA House Theatres
For the more discerning viewer, we also recommend the RCA House theatres at RCA (Royal City Avenue). Royal City Avenue is located off New Petchaburi Road, and is most reknown for its 'clubbing' scene. RCA House is a bit more difficult to locate than most theatres. If you use public transport, the best way is probably to get by MRT subway to the Petchaburi station. From there, take a taxi down New Petchaburi road, RCA is located about 3-4 km down the road in the eastern direction.
RCA House screens foreign language movies (with Thai and English subtitles) and movies that are not 'big' enough to be screened at popular theatres.
During the daytime, there are hardly any visitors, but traffic to get there may be a problem. So maybe the best time to visit is on saturdays and sundays (less traffic congestion). The first time you go there, give yourself ample time. The theatres are not exactly hidden, but you may need to ask directions from the 'locals'.
The Friese-Green Club
A private members' club, called The Friese-Green Club is dedicated to film enthousiasts, film makers, etc. It regularly screens classic and cult movies in its small theatre off Sukhumvit Soi 22. You can find schedules and location at their website : Friese-Green Club.
Tip for 'Seniors'
One can get many discount cards around Bangkok, mostly for supermarkets and department stores, that basically get you a 0.5% or at most 1 % discount on your shopping, when you accumulate 'points'. The best deal in town however (if you are above 60 years of age) is the SF Senior Card. You have to pay 100 baht to get the card. Thereafter you are entitled to get discounts for all movies shown at one of the many SF theatres. Prices will be between 90 to 130 baht instead of between 100 and 220 baht (or thereabouts).
What is showing is covered in leading English newspapers, but in a very bad way, and viewing times are often not quite available or readable.
Moveedoo is a new site that lists movies currently showing as well as showing times. Lately, we discovered the side is not always well updated. A good (maybe better) alternative is Cinematic.Asia , which gives schedules in an easy to use format. It is also useful here that you can see whether the movies are in 'regular' theatres, or in more fashionable and expensive theatres.
Major Cineplex : Major Cineplex theatres in Bangkok and around Thailand. Includes Siam Paragon Cineplex. You can buy tickets online.
Lido and Scala (Apex Theatres at Siam Square)
SF Cinema City (includes SFX Cinema Emporium, SFC Terminal 21, SF World Cinema, at Central World). You can book online.
If only utter luxury will done, check out showtimes at Embassy Diplomat Screens.