Until very recently, Phnom Penh was a city without a real cinema showing English-language films. The options were to see dubbed films on the big screen, or watch movies in small shops that have a dozen chairs and usually two or televisions loudly blaring different programmes in Khmer. But with the recent construction of not one but two 3-D Hollywood blockbuster theatres, you can get your movie-going fix in Phnom Penh. And if you’re less interested in blockbusters, there are also smaller theatres showing documentaries, independent and foreign films.
And since the new theatres have opened, at the urging of the theatre owners, the Cambodian government has threatened to crack down on bootleg and pirated movies. Whether or not that will really happen remains to be seen.
The first theatre in Phnom Penh to show licensed Hollywood films, Legend Cinema offers a true movie theatre experience with all of the adorable quirks of Cambodia. They have three theatres, two of which offer 3-D films and VIP and family seating. They show blockbuster and action film as well as the odd children’s film. Ticket prices range from $4 to $8.
Originally planned as entertainment for expats, Legend was immediately popular with a Khmer audience unfamiliar with what would be considered standard movie-going etiquette elsewhere (and who can blame them, they’ve never had a real theatre before). Legend Cinema has made great strides in educating the masses not to break their 3-D glasses, talk on the phones or chat during the films. Their Facebook page is a great place to watch this delicate cultural education take place.
City Mall, top floor
Monireth Blvd, Phnom Penh
T: (088) 954 9857
In their own words: “The Cineplex is a Cambodia’s premiere international 3D theatre offering: surround sound, 3D, tasty snack, fashionable light, comfortable seat, elegant hall. Enjoy the thrilling experience of full excitement with awesome Hollywood and Asian movies.”
At the top floor of Phnom Penh’s favourite teenage hangout, Sorya Mall, is Sabay Cineplex, the second big-time theatre in town. They have three screens, one of which is 3-D. Ticket prices start at $4 and they have various promotions on different days of the week, so check their Facebook page for more info.
Sorya Shopping Center, 5th Floor
St 63 at St 142, Phnom Penh
T: (017) 666 210
The Flicks Community Movie House
Expat favourite The Flicks shows new and old English-language films including popular classics, documentaries and independent films. They have sessions for kids every weekend where they screen a children’s film and allow screaming and running around. The small theatre is air-conditioned and has couches and futons to relax on with a glass of wine or a soda. They have a full menu delivered from some nearby restaurants, so you can dine during the movie, with pizza, pasta and salads from Equinox or Thai dishes from Setsara.
Officially the movie is free, but visitors must pay for the air-conditioning and to maintain the equipment. Tickets cost $3.50 for adults and $2 for children and are good for the entire day, so you can see more than one movie.
The Flicks calls itself a community movie house and they’re not lying — it’s a friendly place and they’ve started offering yoga classes (with Pilates in the works) four times a week. Conversational Khmer classes are also planned to start next month.
#39B, Street 95, Phnom Penh
T: (078) 809 429
Meta House at the German Cambodian Cultural Centre offers free screenings of independent films and English-language documentaries at 19:00 every night of the week except Monday. They have a full bar and often follow screenings with talks or other opportunities to interact with other humans (if that’s your thing). They often show documentaries about Cambodia so it’s a great place to visit if you’re new in town or want to learn more about the country.
Screening is on the building’s rooftop, so be sure to wear mozzie repellent.
#37 Sothearos Blvd, Phnom Penh
T: (010) 312 333
By Lina Goldberg
Last updated on 8th August, 2014.