MAJESTIC VENUE FOR FILM PREMIERE
GEORGE TOWN: The world’s first movie in Penang Hokkien, ‘You Mean the World to Me’, is set to premiere at the Majestic Theatre, a notable historical landmark in Penang.
The movie’s producer Leonard Tee (pic) said the screening would most likely take place in the third quarter of this year. Some of the scenes were shot in the theatre located at the corner between Jalan Phee Choon and Jalan Khoo Sian Ewe. Formerly known as the Shanghai Sound Theatre, it was said to be the first ‘talkies’ theatre in Northern Malaya.
It was originally designed as a live performance theatre back in the 1920s. Tee said they were grateful to building owner, 1919 Global that had agreed to let out the space for the movie. “It will surely be a nostalgic moment for Penangites to watch a local production at this theatre. “It will remind all of us of the golden era of Asian cinema,” he said when contacted yesterday.
The theatre and the adjoining 12 shop-houses were designed by one of the earliest known Straits-Chinese architects, Chew Eng Eam, in 1926. It was commissioned by local businessman and philanthropist, Khoo Sian Ewe, whose name now adorns the street fronting the building.
In 2007, the property was bought over by Singaporean property developer Jonathan Foo, who had since given the building a facelift. The building’s carvings and top crown, which were removed earlier, had been restored.
Foo, when met at the scene, said they had gone through some old photographs of the building before carrying out the restoration. “Before that, the building was adorned with a square mosaic structure from the 70s. It didn’t look that nice.
“We brought back the original architecture to it. We are happy as we have managed to get back to its original spirit,” he said. Following the restoration, Foo said he had big plans for the place, including holding an international squash competition.
“If you look at the space inside, you can literally build a glass court for an international squash event. “We are also looking at holding theatre screenings, event launches, banquet events and so forth.
“There can also be sporting events such as squash, fencing, and badminton, or even art events, fashion and ballroom dancing. “It will be nice to bring life back to this district again,” he said. Foo, who had ‘uprooted’ his family from Singapore to live in Penang, said the state is a fantastic place for opportunities, in terms property development. “I always have passion for the restoration of old buildings. My family and I are here to stay. “This is no just a financial investment for me, it is a full emotional investment,” he said.