A GROUP of moviegoers bade their final farewell to Pg Odeon with a heavy heart as the curtains came down on the theatre, which was the last free-standing cinema in Penang.
Thirty-nine people turned up to watch the last movie that was screened at the cinema in Penang Road on midnight on Tuesday.
It was a multiracial crowd although the movie screened was a Tamil show titled Velaiyilla Pattathari (Unemployed Graduate).
Among them were friends Azril Abdul Aziz, Nurul Iman Yahaya and Sim Foo Guan.
Azril, 27, said he had watched movies several times at Pg Odeon and felt sad when he learnt about the closing of the cinema.
“As my friends wanted to have a gathering, I proposed that we watch the movie here for the last time and they agreed,” he said.
Another moviegoer, Oh Chin Eng, 26, said it was “heartbreaking” to see the old cinema shut down.
“But I am glad and honoured that I made it to the last show. This is the first time I watched a movie alone and the first time I watched a Tamil movie in a cinema.
“Many will remember Odeon as a landmark in Penang Road and I hope whoever is developing the land will not demolish or change the structure of the building,” Oh said before catching the 135-minute movie.
D. Pala Kumaran, 43, said he loved watching movies at Odeon because of the large screen which was bigger than those in cineplexes.
Pala Kumaran, who came to watch the midnight show with his wife M. Kasturi Bai and daughter P. Keshalleni, was however unaware that it was the last screening at the cinema.
He said he was surprised and, at the same time, sad when told that he had the chance to be part of the historical moment.
“I have heard that the cinema is closing down but I didn’t know this is the day,” he said, adding that he and his family used to catch a movie at Odeon about once a month.
Also sad to see the cinema closing down were its workers.
Titbit seller V. Shalini, 28, who had been working there for three years, said she would be leaving the cinema with a heavy heart.
“I am sad because the boss and the working environment here are awesome. But what
can I do? The business here is bad,” she said, adding that she would be getting a job in a
Ticket seller A. Mohandas, 36, from India, said he would be going back to India to start a small business.
“I don’t feel like leaving here but since I will be jobless, I have to find my own way to earn a living,” he said, adding that out of the five workers from India, three had decided to return to their homeland.
Pg Odeon operator Datuk G. Mariadas said the cinema was closing for good because of the low volume of cinemagoers.
Pg Odeon was formerly known as Lyric, King’s Theatre and Odeon Cinema.
In April 2001, it briefly ceased operations, joining Gala, Majestic, Rex, Capitol, Royal, Paramount and Lido as a memory.
Two months later, another free-standing
cinema, Cathay, built in 1911, followed suit, temporarily ending the era of cinemas on the island.
However, in August 2002, Odeon Cinema reopened as Veenai Odeon and in later years became Pg Odeon.