GUANGZHOU: People from across the city have been flocking to En'ning Street
lately to bid their final farewells to the Grand Theater.
The movie theatre-cum-city landmark is to be demolished after more than 70
"It is much more than just a movie theater to most of us it carries the
memories of our childhoods," Sun Haidi who lives in the city, said.
Jiang Mingyin, a former resident of En'ning Street, agreed: "Every time I
think of the Grand Theater, I think of all of those great movies it played and
the joy it brought me and my family it will be hard for us all when it is no
longer part of our lives."
Built in 1932 and formally opened in 1934, the Grand Theater is one of the
three oldest in Guangzhou. However, as part of a plan to renovate the city, it
was decided the building would have to be demolished.
An officer with the Liwan District's old building reconstruction office
confirmed the Grand Theater "will be torn down".
"However, En'ning Street will still need cultural facilities after the
reconstruction, so Liwan district might poll public opinion and possibly advise
the municipal government to rebuild the theater later," the official said.
Zhang Huaqiang, vice-manager of the Guangzhou acting company, which owns the
theater, said his company will cooperate fully with the municipal government's
"But we will do our best to keep our golden signage until the day it can be
raised once more in a new location," Zhang said.
Researchers involved in assessing the cultural heritage of En'ning Street
said it will be "a shame" if the Grand Theater is lost forever.
"Theaters with 75 years' history are becoming rare in this city," one said.
"Although it is not on the cultural relic protection list, we will suggest to
both the Liwan cultural relic protection department and the municipal cultural
bureau that the golden signage is protected until the theatre is rebuilt."
With a huge number of fans, especially from the older generations, thanks to
its elegant and comfortable design, the Grand Theater enjoyed its golden years
in 1978 and 1979 when it had an average occupancy rate of more than 82 per cent
"In 1979 alone the theater generated a net revenue of about 200,000 yuan
($25,000), which was very impressive at that time," Zheng Shanqi, the theater's
party committee secretary said.
However, the theater saw its popularity start to slump at the start of the
Lao Chen, the theater's projectionist, said: "With the advent of more modern
cinemas and TVs, as well as VCDs and DVDs, fewer people came to the Grand
Theater. It soon lost its place as the city's most popular cinema."
Despite its pending demise, the Grand Theater is firmly fixed in the hearts
of many local people.
A man surnamed Feng said: "My wife and I got married not long after we
watched a movie together in the Grand Theater we had our happiest date there."
Another man, surnamed Hong, said: "I very much enjoyed watching movies at the
Grand Theater, it was one of the first cinemas to play widescreen movies and it
was air conditioned with a sweet fragrance blowing to make the audiences feel
(China Daily 06/01/2007 page5)