An oblique look at Fengzhong Theater in the light

Fengzhong Theater 豐中戲院

Fēngzhōng Theater 豐中戲院 is one of many abandoned theaters in downtown Taichung. Located a stone’s throw away from Taichung Station, this theater was originally the Taiwan Opera Theater 台灣歌劇戲院, a performance venue founded at the very end of Japanese colonial rule in 1944. According to this source the name was changed to Fengzhong Theater when it was converted for use as a cinema in 1953. It was in continuous operation until 2004 when it was closed and finally abandoned.

Outside Fengzhong Theater 豐中戲院
Fengzhong Theater from the street. The metal frame installed on the facade once held movie posters.
Ticket booth at Fengzhong Theater 豐中戲院
The ticket booth at Fengzhong Theater hasn’t changed much over the years.
Coming soon at Fengzhong Theater 豐中戲院
Coming soon!
Blow movie poster
Blow (2001).

Given its historic status I already knew of Fengzhong Theater when I passed through the area late one night in early 2016. I only meant to stop by and take a few photos of the exterior but after noticing an opening I stepped inside to take a quick look. I was there for ten minutes at most and did not bring proper lighting or equipment for a full exploration—but since there is considerable public interest in this particular theater I may as well publish what I have.

A decrepit hallway inside Fengzhong Theater 豐中戲院
The decrepit hallway leading to the second cinema in Fengzhong Theater.
Second theater at Fengzhong Theater 豐中戲院
Seating in the second theater. Very dusty!
Second screen at Fengzhong Theater 豐中戲院
The second screen at Fengzhong Theater.
The second projector room at Fengzhong Theater 豐中戲院
Not much remains in the second projection room.
Dating the abandonment to December 2000
Dating the abandonment of Fengzhong Theater to December 2000.
Main theater at Fengzhong Theater 豐中戲院
The main cinema at Fengzhong Theater. This one is closer to the front of the building.

This theater, like many others of its time, was once home to a single screen and a large auditorium. When the cinema industry began to falter in the 1990s it was common practice to subdivide old school theaters into multiple rooms to increase revenue. Often these renovations produced awkward results, with theaters arranged perpendicular to one another in order to accommodate additional screens and projection rooms where only one existed in the past. I’m not entirely certain this is what happened here—but the theater has obviously been renovated since opening in the 1940s and the layout is somewhat peculiar. Access to the second projection room is actually through a balcony running along the outside of the building.

Main projection room at Fengzhong Theater 豐中戲院
The main projection room was cleared out long ago.
Overlooking the main theater at Fengzhong Theater 豐中戲院
Overlooking the main cinema from the projection room.

Although the seating areas and screens remain in decent condition most of the building has been picked clean of interesting artifacts and subsequently trashed. Plenty of rubbish has been dumped inside, which is rather gross. Squeezing inside reminded me of the garbage compactor scene in Star Wars: A New Hope. I don’t envy whomever was sitting next to me on the train not long thereafter. All in a day’s work!

Fengzhong Theater 豐中戲院
One last look at the exterior of Fengzhong Theater, Taichung, after dark.

Months later I happened to be in the area so I returned to capture a few more shots of the exterior by day. This post has now been updated to include a few of these, among them a photo of the ticket booth with several more movie posters. One of those posters is for Wolf Girl and the other for what I would assume is Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, both of which were released in 2001. This would suggest that the theater was abandoned a few years earlier than previously thought.

Fengzhong Theater ticket booth by day
A glance at the Fengzhong Theater ticket booth by day reveals two of the last movies shown here: Harry Potter (left) and Wolf Girl (right).
Fengzhong Theater facade by day
The Japanese colonial heritage of the building is more obvious by day. Too bad about those metal frames getting in the way of appreciating the architecture!
An oblique look at Fengzhong Theater in the light
An oblique look at the old Fengzhong Theater, likely abandoned since around 2001.
Political Advertisement Obscuring Fengzhong Theater
A huge political banner obscuring the front of Fengzhong Theater in late 2017.

If you’re interested in other abandoned places in the area you absolutely must check out Qianyue Building 千越大樓 and the even older Tianwaitian Theater 天外天劇場 on the other side of the tracks. For more explorations of abandoned cinemas in Taiwan check out my many posts about the subject here.