Queenstown Cinema and Bowling Centre (1977-1999)

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Queenstown Cinema (left) and Queenstown Bowl (right), pictured as the extension of the theatre's building.. Photo from State of Buildings.

The old Queenstown Cinema and Bowling Centre was located at 250 Commonwealth Avenue. Built in 1977, business at the cinema thrived in the 1970s and 1980s. It closed in 1999 and was demolished in 2013. The land where it stood was put on sale in 2018.

History

Queenstown Cinema was one of the three modern air-conditioned movie theatres built in the Queenstown Town Centre. In 1962, it was publicly announced that the Housing and Development Board (HDB) would provide the land for the cinemas. The cinemas themselves were managed by private enterprises.[1] Queenstown Cinema was the third and last cinema built in the town centre, after the Venus Theatre and the Golden City Theatre.[2][3][4]


Queenstown Cinema was managed by Chong Gay Theatres Ltd. It opened its doors on 29 April 1977. The cinema cost an estimated S$5 million to build.[5] It had two halls, Queenstown and Queensway, and had a total of 1,715 seats.[6] Tickets cost between 50-cents and S$1.50, depending on the seats picked.[7]

Queenstown Bowl

The Queenstown Cinema in 1977. Photo from National Archives Singapore.

An additional feature of this building was the bowling centre which was housed in an extension block.[8] The Queenstown Bowl was an 18-lane bowling alley that was the “first of its kind from USA”. The bowling centre was opened daily from 9 am to 1 am, with opening hours stretching until 2 am on weekends and holidays.[9]

Senior Citizens’ Week (1979)

In conjunction with Senior Citizens’ Week, Queenstown Cinema, together with the Apex Club of Singapore, offered free movie screenings for patrons over 55 years old.[10] The cinema screened the Hong Kong Mandarin film “The Last Woman of Shang”, directed by Yueh Feng.[11]

Daylight robbery incident (1983)

On 19 December 1983, a daylight robbery occurred at Queenstown Cinema. At around 10 am, two “tough-looking” men ambushed the cinema manager, Loh Kwok Sang, in his office. Armed with knives, they tied up the manager and a ticket seller. The men threatened to harm them if the safe was not opened. They left with S$8,000 which was part of the takings from the previous night.[12]

Closure (1999)

Between 1999 and 2013, the building was left abandoned.

Queenstown Cinema closed its doors in 1999 and was left unattended for over a decade. While the exact reasons for the closure remained unknown, the bowling alley, karaoke lounge and Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) outlet continued to operate in the building. The cinema halls were converted into a billiard and LAN gaming centre for a few years before the entire building was vacated.[13]

Demolition (2013)

In 2013, it was announced that the cinema site would be demolished as the building was “purported to be structurally unstable”. The site was privately owned by Crescendas Group who had interests in real estate, manufacturing, technology, logistics and hospitality. The building was demolished in June 2013 and the land was left vacant until 2018.[14]

Sale (2018)

On 3 December 2018, Cushman & Wakefield, the firm marketing the property, announced that the plot of land was launched for sale by tender. They estimated that the sale would fetch about S$200 million. According to the firm, written permission was granted to develop the land into a “six-storey commercial building with shops, restaurants, community institutions and a cineplex with parking lots in the basement”.[15]

Heritage efforts

Bottom left: The neon signage from Queenstown Cinema. The museum is a community-driven project by residents. Photo from Great New Places.

Following the announcements that the Queenstown Cinema was to be demolished, visitors poured in to visit the abandoned building and reminisce on the cinema’s hey-day. Queenstown residents launched initiatives to preserve the heritage of Queenstown, Singapore’s first satellite town.

Museum @ My Queenstown (2019)

Located in a shophouse at Tanglin Halt housing estate, Museum @ My Queenstown was Singapore’s first independent community museum. The museum was funded, curated and managed by Queenstown residents. A civic charity group, My Community, was behind this museum project. According to Kwek Li Young, president and co-founder of My Community, the museum “narrates the endearing story of the common man, immortalises our collective memory as a community and celebrates the little things which make Queenstown special”.[16]


The museum was launched on 23 February 2019. The two-storey building housed various artefacts such as “signages from the Palace KTV and housing blocks 74 to 80, as well as more than 2,000 rare photographs of Queenstown”. The neon signage from the Queenstown Cinema could be found near the entrance of the museum.[17]

References/ Citations

  1. “Queenstown cinemas”. The Straits Times. July 1, 1962. Accessed 21 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  2. “Two new cinemas for Queenstown”. The Straits Times. January 9, 1964. Accessed 21 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  3. “A third cinema to go up in Q’town”. The Straits Times. May 30, 1975. Accessed 21 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  4. Melody Zaccheus. “It’s curtains for iconic Queenstown cinema”. The Straits Times. June 8, 2013. Accessed 19 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  5. “Seven new cinemas for S’pore”. The Straits Times. February 18, 1977. Accessed 21 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  6. Chia, Caroline. “End credits roll for Queenstown fixture”. The Straits Times. June 29, 2013. Accessed 19 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  7. Roots.sg. “Queenstown: The First Satellite Town”. YouTube. September 13, 2013. Accessed 22 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOlhD28p4ts
  8. “A third cinema to go up in Q’town”. The Straits Times. May 30, 1975. Accessed 21 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  9. "Page 16 Advertisements Column 1”. The Straits Times. April 29, 1977. Accessed 21 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  10. “Free show for the old”. The Straits Times. December 6, 1979. Accessed 19 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  11. "The Last Woman of Shang (1964)". Hong Kong Cinemagic. 1964. Retrieved from http://www.hkcinemagic.com/en/movie.asp?id=3986
  12. Suresh Nair. “$8,000 hold-up at Queenstown cinema”. Singapore Monitor. December 22, 1983. Accessed 19 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  13. Chia, Caroline. “End credits roll for Queenstown fixture”. The Straits Times. June 29, 2013. Accessed 19 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  14. Melody Zaccheus. “It’s curtains for iconic Queenstown cinema”. The Straits Times. June 8, 2013. Accessed 19 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  15. “Former Queenstown Cinema site up for sale, with over $200m expected price”. The Straits Times. December 3, 2018. Accessed 22 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/former-queenstown-cinema-site-up-for-sale-with-over-200m-expected-price
  16. Daryl Choo. “Residents love Queenstown, so a community museum was born to hold their memories”. Today. February 23, 2019. Accessed 22 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/residents-love-queenstown-so-community-museum-was-born-hold-their-memories
  17. Daryl Choo. “Residents love Queenstown, so a community museum was born to hold their memories”. Today. February 23, 2019. Accessed 22 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/residents-love-queenstown-so-community-museum-was-born-hold-their-memories