Saturday, April 20, 2013

Taman Jurong Heritage Trail - Jurong Drive-in Theatre

Young Singaporeans may not know this. We used to have a drive-in theatre right here in Singapore. Thanks to my dear friend, Stephen Lai, I am able to share with you, these 2 rare photos of the Jurong Drive-In Theatre.

That little structure in the centre; could it be the projection room?
The pick-up truck in this photo is travelling along Yuan Ching Road towards Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim.This giant screen, measuring 47 ft by 100 ft, was raised 25 ft above ground and tilted at an angle of six-and-a-half degrees. Source: Singapore Infopedia.

Where was it located?

The Jurong Drive-in Theatre was located along Yuan Ching Road next to Japanese Garden Road. Today, the land is occupied by the Fairway Club. The rear of the cinema was near Japanese Garden Road, whilst the screen was towards the direction of the Tang Village, which, of course, was not in existence at that time.

Viewed from Blk 113
What I remember of this place

Actually, I cannot recall much of this place as I had only been there a couple of times. It was not a popular place for Singaporeans for a number of reasons. One, there was no air-conditioning. This kind of open-air concept is just not suitable for our tropical climate; especially since by the 1980’s, Singaporeans had grown affluent and accustomed to watching movies in air-conditioned comfort.  Besides this, there was also the factor of rain to consider.

Secondly, the sound quality was poor. The sound came from a speaker which had a bracket attached to it. You mount the speaker on the car door with the window wound down. The car, by the way, is parked on a slight incline so that you can view the huge screen. I believe that, as the distance from the screen increased, this angle of inclination was reduced. For these reasons, sometimes, we preferred to get out of the car and watch the movie from the public gallery seats located at the back of the cinema.

The only movie that I recall watching at the Jurong Drive-in was Bruce Lee’s The Big Boss. This movie was such a big hit that all the tickets were sold out in the regular theatres in town; and so in desperation, my brothers and I headed for the Jurong Drive-in.

The Big Boss broke the drive-in cinema's box-office record, collecting S$12,000 for one night. Source: Singapore Infopedia.

For a more detail explanation of the Jurong Drive-in Cinema, check out this article at the Singapore Infopedia website.

Below are some photos from the National Archives’ Picas website.


Keith said...

I'd been there quite a few times as a kid. I remember the screen was located at Tang Village with the back of the screen facing the junction of Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim and Yuan Ching Road. Other readers may like to verify.

Lam Chun See said...

I don't think it was that big as to reach all the way to Ahmad Ibrahim Rd from Japanese Gdn Rd; judging from the top photo and the map.

Edwin said...

The back of the screen indeed faced the direction of Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim and Yuan Ching Road junction but the screen was quite a distance away from the junction. Probably Keith misunderstood what Chun See wrote when he said that the "rear of the cinema was near Japanese Garden Road". At the rear of the cinema ground was a building housing a snack shop and toilets.

FL said...

Other than watching movies in an open-air cinemas back in late 1950s and early 1960s (kampong days), I also had an experience of watching a movie in one and only Jurong drive-in cinema in Singapore. That year was around mid-1970 in a friend's car. I remember like you have to bring the wired speakers inside the car to hear. Hence, you cannot close the car's windows. Therefore, you also could not enjoy the car's air-con. Technology was not great then. I could not imagine if it happened to rain on those days of the shows. Maybe, someone could share the experience of watching the drive-in movie in the rain ? Thanks.

Tah Chung said...

You wind down the windows and hook the speakers on the windows. There's a shop selling steaming chunky french fries (Unlike the deep fried long strips from McDonald). i remember the shop as A&W, but it's really vague now.

Lam Chun See said...

The correct name of the place isn Jurong Drive-in Cinema. But I deliberately use Theatre instead of Cinema because that's the name we used when we referred to this place.

As this is a nostalgia blog and not a proper heritage blog per se, I want to document what we remember.