Taipei, Taitung’s last traditional cinema Datong Theater, which was closed in 2009, was partially demolished Saturday, after the building was listed as a dangerous structure.
The demolition work began on Dec. 2, roughly 18 months after the building was marked in 2018 for demolition.
According to the county government, it was only recently that all the parties involved were able to reach an agreement on how the building should be taken down.
Established in Taitung City in 1958, the cinema was in its prime in the 1960s and 1970s, but by the 1980s it was the last one in operation in Taitung, as television and videos became more popular.
On Aug. 17, 2009, Datong Theater was ravaged by fire and has since been closed. For almost four years after the fire, the county in southeastern Taiwan had no movie theaters, until Showtime Cinema opened one there in July 2013.
In recent years, some Datong Theater shareholders had been advocating restoring it to its former glory, but the idea came to naught, amid grim forecasts for the local movie industry.
Despite calls in local communities for the preservation of the theater, the country government determined in 2018 that the building posed a safety risk because it was crumbling after the fire and in the wake of a number of earthquakes over the years.
Taitung’s cinema business was at its peak in the 1960s and 1970s, when movies were the main form of entertainment in the county, and there were two cinemas in each township. In those days, films were also screened in a prison on Lanyu, Taitung’s outlying island.
When Dawu Theater in the southernmost part of Taitung was closed in 1985, Datong Theater became last operating one in the county.
The future use of the Datong Theater site is under discussion.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel