Bai Sheng 百勝 Cinema - 1953
Updated: This wooden cinema was called Bai Sheng 百勝 (Hundred Victory in Mandarin), not Rex. It was opposite the current Rex cinema, across the Repok Road. It had live shows including Cantonese operas (ie the type where actors and actresses had painted faces). Street vendors peddled food outside the cinema.
In its hey days, Rex was called the "new cinema" (built in 1970) while Cathay was called the "old cinema". Watching movies was a favourite past time in this small town. Rex differentiated itself from Cathay & the 3rd mile suburbian cinema (Updated: Ta Kwong) by bringing in Hollywood blockbusters (eg: James Bond 007) & Indian Bollywood musicals (endless singing & dancing around the trees). In the old days, movie tickets cost only a few sen. In the 1970's, tickets were 50 sen to RM$1.60. Children sneaked in behind the shadows of adults. (lompang ie. take a ride). Many creative folks would buy the cheapest tickets and then crept up to the best seats in the house. The cinema manager (kilipan in Foochow), Mr Wong, & the ushers would use torch lights that beamed like prison spotlights to catch the people crawling along the corridors to the RM$1.60 seats.
In the early-mid 80's, pirated videos killed the movie stars. Slowly business dwindled while video shops mushroomed. Then LDs, VCDs and now DVDs ruled the day. Ironically, Rex cinema then became the "20 sen shop" (Dua Puluh Sen Shop) selling cheap merchandise and that closed shop in 2005. It stands empty now as a stark reminder to what disruptive technology & piracy can do to a thriving business & a great family outing.