Roxy Cinema



The now demolished Roxy cinema, also known as Roxy theatre, used to be sited at the junction of East Coast Road and Brooke Road (where Roxy Square now stands). Initially owned by Mr Low Peng Soy, before being taken over by the legendary Shaw brothers, it was a landmark institution screening Chinese, English, Malay and Hindustani movies in the early and mid-20th century.

Description

Roxy Cinema opened its doors to the public on 17 February 1931 by Mr Low Peng Soy.2 It once stood opposite the popular Red House Bakery.3 The auditorium sat 1,200 people and was furnished with Western Electric sound equipment. It was reported that the first picture screened was Buck Jones, an all-talking Western romance. The theatre was designed by Messrs. Lim and Seah architects, and cost $100,000 to build.4 Its interior colour scheme was dark and light shades of green.5

History
The cinema was popular with Katong residents during weekends, the highlight being the Saturday night screenings.6 Some of the screenings were so popular that there was a black market for tickets once the screening was sold-out.7 The weekend morning shows were equally popular with people rushing to tie handkerchiefs on the wooden chairs’ armrests to reserve seats after paying 50 cents. Their fervour was not dimmed by the fact that ventilation relied only on ceiling fans and that black outs were common. Whenever there was a black out, the doors of the theatre would be thrown open to let fresh air in.8 It was closed for renovations and reopened in 1957, complete with air-conditioning.9 Being the first cinema in Katong, it was a haunt for the youth.10


The theatre was taken over by the famous cinema shakers, the Shaw brothers, in the early 1970s.11 The Shaw brothers’ dynamic business skills had them owning 19 cinema halls by 1965. They also contracted 30 independent halls all over the island to play only Shaw-distributed films.12 The name Roxy remained unchanged when the Shaw brothers took over and the theatre continued to screen English and non-English movies.13 Tickets for English movies were charged at $3 dollars for circle seats before the price hike in 1978.14 A popular eating place after watching a movie at the Roxy was the La Paloma Chinese restaurant next door.15 There were also stalls selling laksa, satay, mee siam, ice-water and seafood at the theatre.16

The cinema ceased its operations on 1 August 1978.17 The land on which the cinema stood was reported as sold by the Shaw brothers in July 1977.18 In its place now stands Roxy Square, a $77 million dollar shopping complex which was completed in 1984.19 The second phase of the Roxy Square development was delayed due to the recession and slump in the hotel industry in the mid-1980s.20 The former Roxy Century Park Hotel, a four-star hotel, was part of the estate that replaced the Roxy theatre.21



Author

Naidu Ratnala Thulaja



References
1. Jafri Mohamed. (1993, January). A Katong story. Marie Claire, p. 20. (Call no.: RSING 052 MC)
2. The Roxy Theatre. (1931, February 18). The Straits Times, p.8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Yeoh, B. S. A., & Kong, L. (Eds.). (1995). Portraits of places: History, community and identity in Singapore. Singapore: Times Editions, p. 121. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 POR-[HIS])
4. The Roxy Theatre. (1931, February 18). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Roxy Theatre Opening. (1931, February 23). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Jafri Mohamed. (1993, January). A Katong story. Marie Claire, p. 20. (Call no.: RSING 052 MC)
7. Kong, L. (2001). Joo Chiat: A living legacy. Singapore: National Archives of Singapore, p. 113. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 KON-[HIS])
8. Jafri Mohamed. (1993, January). A Katong story. Marie Claire, p. 20. (Call no.: RSING 052 MC)
9. Reopening of Roxy Cinema (1957, December 28). The Straits Times, p.5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Good old Roxy: Katong residents reminisce. (1978, August 15). New Nation, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Good old Roxy: Katong residents reminisce. (1978, August 15). New Nation, p. 4; Reopening of Roxy Cinema. (1957, December 28). The Straits Times, p.5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Yong, S. C. (2004, May 13). Graceful 80. Today, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Kong, L. (2001). Joo Chiat: A living legacy. Singapore: National Archives of Singapore, p. 113. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 KON-[HIS]); Yong, S. C. (2004, May 13). Graceful 80. Today, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Five more cinemas allowed to raise ticket prices. (1978, May 2). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Jafri Mohamed. (1993, January). A Katong story. Marie Claire, p. 20. (Call no.: RSING 052 MC)
16. Good old Roxy: Katong residents reminisce. (1978, August 15). New Nation, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Roxy is sold to property developer. (1978, August 12). New Nation, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. $20m complex planned for cinema site. (1978, December 24) The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Wang, L. K. (1981, January 17). Katong to have $77m complex. The Business Times, p. 1; Lim, K. K. (1984, May 15). Remember this? The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Rashiwala, K. (1998, August 16). Roxy Square’s Phase Two revived. The Straits Times, p. 33. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Rashiwala, K. (1998, August 16). Roxy Square’s Phase Two revived. The Straits Times, p. 33. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Commercial Buildings
Arts>>Architecture>>Public and commercial buildings
Business, finance and industry>>Industry>>Leisure and entertainment
Motion picture theaters--Singapore
Commercial buildings