'World's most luxurious cinema' opens in Bangkok


Bangkok has long been known for harboring some of the poshest and most comfortable movie theatres on the planet. But if the operator and interior designers of the just recently opened Embassy Diplomat Screens are to be believed, Thailand’s capital now also is home to “the world’s most luxurious cinema.” Occupying an area of approximately 2,900 square meters on the sixth floor of Central Embassy, Bangkok’s latest multi-purpose business, shopping and entertainment complex, Embassy Diplomat Screens comprises several lounges, an exclusive VIP Wine Club, and five breathtakingly beautifully furnished cinemas ranging from 285 to 350 square meters and capacities of between 32 and 56 very generously spaced-out seats.

“We were asked to draw on our background in design for high-end hospitality to redefine the experience of going to the movies and create a very exclusive venue,” said Diego Gronda, managing director and creative director of Rockwell Group Europe, whose team designed the new movie temple’s interior from scratch and in close consultation with the venue owner, Thailand’s leading cinema operator, Major Cineplex Group PLC. “We imagined a mix of lounge areas and screening rooms that are elegant and cozy, transporting guests into the home of a film star. For the screening rooms, we moved away from the traditional model where everyone sits in rows of conventional theatre seats. There’s [also] a special VIP cinema that offers a lot of flexibility [in seating arrangements]. Guests can relax in massage chairs, on daybeds, or in ‘home theatre’-style with their [whole] families, with a private mini-bar at their fingertips.”

Accents of Hollywood glamour already envelop audiences as soon as they step over the threshold. Slender, lustrous metal fins in warm shades of champagne undulate along the double-height, curvilinear entry hall in a nod to the fluid waves of traditional 35mm film. From the entry hall, which also contains the ticketing area and a high-end concessions stand, audiences proceed to the main lounge, VIP lounge, and five individually designed screening rooms. The principal focal points of the main lounge include a center island with beige leather ottomans, an elliptical bar, and even a large fireplace. The latter being somewhat of an odd fixture in a tropical country like Thailand, it certainly also is an eye-catcher.

The VIP Section at Embassy Diplomat Screens comprises a VIP lounge and a special VIP theatre, arguably the most luxuriously furnished of all the venue’s five screening rooms. It offers different seating arrangements for individuals, couples, families and small groups, as well as seating types like daybeds, spacious sofas with throw pillows and fur blankets, and padded leather armchairs with large headrests. Reading lamps for each seat, side tables, and private mini-bars stocked with complimentary refreshments are additional features. Holding a ticket for the VIP Cinema also grants exclusive access to the adjoining, soundproofed VIP Wine Club, where headphone-wearing guests can continue watching the movie through a large glass window while enjoying a glass of Merlot at the marble countertop bar.

The remaining four regular theatres may not be equipped with all-you-can-drink personal mini-bars, but are just as elegantly and comfortably furnished as the VIP Cinema. Dressed in ribbon-padded walls and ceilings in lustrous metal colors such as gold, silver and bronze, their seating consists of very spacious padded cocoon chairs in beige leather with orange detailing. All seats are equipped with push buttons to call serving staff and order from a selection of gourmet foods and beverages during the screening.

Embassy Diplomat Screens held its grand opening—a black-tie affair—on June 6 to much fanfare and has already received numerous positive reviews in the local media. Yet indulging in lavish luxury does come at a price. The cheapest regular ticket costs THB 900 (almost $30), or about three times the current daily minimum wage of an unskilled worker in Thailand, although Major Cineplex Group does provide discounted prices for couples and members of their cinema club.

Taiwanese Director Sentenced for Rape
A district court in Taiwan’s capital Taipei in early June handed down a prison sentence of three years and ten months to prominent local director Chang Tso-chi for the rape of a female screenwriter in the early hours of May 13 last year. The court heard that after dinner Chang had invited a group of his friends—including the screenwriter—back to his home to continue partying and drinking alcohol. While most of Chang’s friends eventually left, the screenwriter stayed behind because she was too intoxicated to return home. According to the prosecution, Chang then raped her at around 2 a.m. Formally charged on August 26, 2013, Chang was initially released on bail and prohibited from leaving the country. After his arrest, he vigorously maintained that he didn’t remember what had happened on the night in question due to his own inebriation, and that he also couldn’t possibly have committed the crime because he was suffering from an incapacitating back injury at the time. Chang can still appeal the sentence in a higher court.

Aspiring Thai Producer Threatens Suicide
Being an inexperienced film producer has its perils, as Nopporn Inthornsawat, president of Bangkok-based Aomtwo Entertainment Co. Ltd., recently found out. The 46-year-old novice producer had raised an estimated THB 40 million (approx. $1.25 mil.) to finance his very first movie, period comedy Sri Thanonchai 555+, which was based on a Thai folk tale about an uneducated and impoverished but crafty young man who uses his natural wits to take advantage of his compatriots. Poorly produced and directed, stricken by a largely unknown cast of amateur actors and victimized by a childishly inept script, the movie was nevertheless released on June 5 in an undisclosed number of theatres nationwide. However, by June 8, it had earned only about THB 30,000 (less than $1,000) in box-office receipts and was unceremoniously pulled by practically all cinemas.

Nopporn, who had no prior experience in the film industry at all, but claimed to have been “persuaded to invest in the movie by a relative,” then apparently snapped and on the morning of June 9 threatened to jump from the sixth floor of an office building in downtown Bangkok. He eventually was successfully talked down by police, friends and relatives who had rushed to the scene. It also seems he has somewhat recovered from his breakdown in the meantime, as Aomtwo Entertainment on June 20 posted a special promotion on its Facebook page offering a DVD copy of Sri Thanonchai 555+ for the special price of only THB 259 ($8.20), promising to “deliver the order no later than September 30” this year. The curious number “555+” in Sri Thanonchai 555+ is a wordplay on Thai language. The Thai word for 5 is approximately pronounced as “ha.” Successive 5’s indicate laughter as in “ha ha ha” and are an abbreviation often used in local chat rooms.

For inquiries and feedback, contact Thomas Schmid at thaitom03@loxinfo.co.th