Huaguo Theater 華國戲院

Exterior View of Huaguo Theater in 2017

Huaguo Theater 華國戲院 is one of hundreds of abandoned theaters scattered around Taiwan. Located in Puli 埔里, a town of approximately 80,000 in the heart of Nantou 南投, this particular theater was likely built in the late 1950s. From what I’ve read in this post by Wang Henglu 王亨祿, this theater was operated by a couple with the family name Zhou 周 and specialized in showing Western films on a single screen before its inevitable demise.

Fengzhong Theater 豐中戲院

Outside Fengzhong Theater 豐中戲院

Fengzhong Theater 豐中戲院 is one of many abandoned theaters in downtown Taichung 台中. 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.

Zhongli Xinming Theater 中壢新明戲院

A closer look at Xinming Theater 新明戲院

In the last year or so I have found and explored numerous abandoned movie theaters in Taiwan. It all started when I stumbled upon Datong Theater 大同戲院 down in Taitung City 台東市 last June. Since then I have learned much more about the Taiwanese cinema industry: how many theaters are likely to be found in a city of a given size, where they are likely to be found, when they were likely to have been abandoned, and so on. Not long after moving to Zhongli 中壢 a few months ago I put this growing awareness to the test by cycling around town one morning, finding several theaters new to me, all within close proximity to one another. One of these, Xinming Theater 新明戲院, is the subject of this post. Public records indicate the business was registered around 1980 and lapsed in 1997, though it almost certainly closed sometime before then.

Zhongyuan Theater 中源大戲院

Hand-painted movie posters in Zhongli

Zhongyuan Theater 中源大戲院 is a second-run theater located in the heart of Zhongyuan Night Market 中原夜市 in Zhongli 中壢, Taiwan. Zhongyuan Theater is ideally located next to the university of the same name amidst a huge population of budget-conscious students—which may explain why it remains in business unlike hundreds of other old theaters that have fallen into ruin in recent years, victims of changing consumer habits and strong competition from more modern multiplexes. Zhongyuan is also one of the very last theaters in the nation where you will find hand-painted movie posters hanging outside, a nostalgic practice more widely associated with Chin Men Theater 全美戲院 down in Tainan 台南.

Taitung Datong Theater 台東大同戲院

An oblique view of Datong Theater

In June 2015 I undertook a bicycle trip from Tainan 台南 to Taitung City 台東市, where I spent an extra day wandering around to get more of a feel for Taiwan’s remote southeastern capital. Mere minutes after leaving my hotel, immediately after chancing upon the historic Taitung Chinese Association 台東中華會館, I noticed the stark outline of an abandoned building at the end of a short laneway leading off of Zhongzheng Road 中正路. After taking a closer look I realized it was yet another abandoned movie theater, of which there are many scattered all around Taiwan.

Douliumen Building 斗六門大樓

Exterior View of the Douliumen Building 斗六門大樓

While living down in Changhua City 彰化市 last winter I made occasional forays up and down the TRA Western Line 西部幹線 to scope out places not commonly written about in English. One such place is Douliu 斗六, the administrative seat of Yunlin 雲林, which hardly earns more than a passing mention in the English language blogosphere. It was a worthwhile trip too—apart from the famous Taiping Old Street 太平老街 and the surprisingly large and lively Douliu Night Market 斗六夜市 I also chanced upon another abandoned entertainment complex, the Douliumen Building 斗六門大樓, named after an archaic term for the city dating back to the 17th century. This building was also once home to the Shuangzixing or Gemini Theater 雙子星戲院.