Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sky Theatre - 1950's

Date taken : circa late 1950's ( B&W photo)
As a young kid and adult growing in Bintulu I have seen the rise and the fall of the cinema entertainment business here especially those buildings purpose-built to project celluloid films on huge theatre white screens. One such institution was the Sky Theatre of which the building is seen on the right of the picture above. The space between the theatre and the wooden shophouses have been taken up by the Hoover Hotel as shown below. The wooden shophouses are gone now. The main road that is seen above is the Keppel Road and is not yet well-paved. Cars are very few indeed and there is ample green space in between the opposite row of wooden shophouses. Life seemed to remain standstill except of course the dramatic experiences shown in the theatre. I have my share of attending films ( including cheap Sunday matinees), acrobatic shows, magic shows, concerts and singing competitions organised in the theatre. The Sky Theatre was owned by a local businessman named Yek Min Ek and was opened for business in the 1950's. The theatre survived for 40 years but with the advent of television in the 1970's and video tapes in the 1980's, the cinema business suffered badly and the theatre met its natural death in the 1990's.

Date taken : 2 Dec'10 ( Digital - Sony cyber-shot)
The original site of the Sky Theatre now houses the 'City Point' building which is owned by the Hock Lee group a company started by Yek Min Ek. In the building there are cineplexes as a sign of continuity in the cinema business and still having popular audience. The wooden shophouses are replaced by permanent ones. The Keppel road now enjoys trappings of modernism like bituminous or tar-sealed road. To encourage smooth traffic flow the local authority decided to make the Kepppel Road a one-way four-lane street complete with traffic lights, pedestrain crossing, tiled street pavements, underground cables for the lamp posts and landscaping.