BANGKOK — The 50-year-old Lido Theater closed its doors in June 2018 to undergo renovations for what organizers promised wouldn’t be just another mall. Located smack in the middle of downtown Siam, we went to see how regular Thais are experiencing the newly revamped space.

Although the mini-mall’s decor pays tribute to the historic movie house, it remains to be seen if the space, which includes a movie theater and two concert venues, will be used to its fullest potential.

Ground floor: murals, cafes, and IG brand shops

The ground floor features about two dozen shops, geared toward Instagrammy clothing rather than the 199 baht made-in-China clothes that used to take up the space. There are also pre-Lido favorites, such as a long-standing Kpop merch shop. Notably, Thonglor’s The Blooming Gallery has opened a branch here.

“I guess there’s more people now that it’s renovated, especially with the events they hold here,” Wantana Kongkien, 35, an employee of Lido DVD said. “But the sales won’t be booming, because the economy is generally bad.”

Wantana says she’s been with the shop for nine years, selling racks of “Children of Man” on the ground floor of the old Lido. She moved there after her shop at Siam Theater a few hundred meters away was torched in 2010.

Wantana Kongkien
Wantana Kongkien.

The minimall has tried to incorporate decor from the old Lido theater, such as by recycling theater seats as benches. There’s also a Lido Cafe with generic drinks and a vague movie theme.

Visitors could be seen lounging on chairs as well as taking photos with various murals on the walls, which include a pastel remix of Juli Baker and Summer’s “The Creation of Adam.”

Second floor: Confusing ticketing for indie movies

Of the three movie theaters that previously inhabited the space, only Lido 1 is still functioning as a movie theater. It mostly shows indie flicks rather than blockbusters, with screenings curated by The Documentary Club.

But the ticketing system for the theater is cumbersome and somehow less efficient than pen-and-paper. The four touch screens don’t operate a dedicated seat-booking app, but rather open to the Lido Connect webpage. After selecting the film of your choice, the browser opens a pop-up where you need to select the “zone” (or row) where you wish to sit – but the seating map does not show which seats are already taken.

After selecting a zone, another pop-up window opens. A map highlights the row you chose, but still does not show which seats are taken. From there, you scroll and pick seats by the number. If a row is sold out, you’ll have to return to the previous window and pick another zone…

The system made us miss the lighting-fast ticket lady at the old Lido, who would stamp tickets with acute speed before waiting ushers tore along the dotted lines. The new tickets, printed from the machines, do not have dotted lines for ushers to tear. Instead, moviegoers say ushers have to use scissors to cut them.

Popcorn is for sale – 59 baht a box, a bump up from the 40-baht box of old – from the Lido shop, which also sells Lido-logo merch.

Lido 2 is now an entertainment venue (“Live House”). On the day we visited, a Thailand-Korea charity concert for the disabled, attended by deputy prime minister Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan, was in progress. Lido 3 is another entertainment venue (“Black Box”), and will be used for concerts and parties.

Singer-songwriter Julie Byrne is set to perform at Lido Connect next Friday.

Lido Connect, located very close to BTS Siam, is open 10am to 10pm every day.

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