Photo: Wat Lanka, Phnom Penh.


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Phnom Penh’s transformation into a thriving modern city is evidenced by the evolution of the cinema scene here. Now not only 3-D but also 4-D screens are offered in theatres that you wouldn’t be able to distinguish from anything you’d find anywhere else in the world. Plus — thankfully — you’ll find smaller arthouse cinemas showing classics, documentaries, indie and foreign (non-English) language films.

Toto, I don’t think we’re in Cambodia anymore… Oh wait, we totally are.

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.

Legend Cinema: 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, action and kids films with ticket prices ranging from $3 to $16.

Platinum Cineplex: At the top floor of Phnom Penh’s favourite teenage hangout, Sorya Mall, Platinum Cineplex has three cinemas, one of which is 3D. They show a mix of international blockbusters and local films. Prices start at $2 for the early deals.

Major Cineplex: The newest and shiniest of the lot, they have not only 3D, but also 4D theatres — moving chairs, wind, smells and smoke — for a more “immersive” experience. They also have an exclusive VIP room. Tickets start at $4, $2 for kids, and go up to $15 depending on the film, time and day.

The Empire: The Empire is an independent cinema with an air-con room with futons to cosy down on. Daily screenings of The Killing Fields are rounded off with an offering of Hollywood mainstreamers, indies and classics. Tickets are $3.50, for which you can stay all day if you like. The food here has a top reputation and can be enjoyed while watching.

Independent Empire.

Independent Empire.

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 also offer yoga classes (with Pilates in the works) four times a week. Conversational Khmer classes are also planned to start next month.

Meta House: 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. The screen is on the building’s rooftop, so be sure to wear mozzie repellent.

Legend Cinema: City Mall, top floor, Monireth Blvd, Phnom Penh; T: (081) 310 401;
Platinum Cineplex: Sorya Mall, top floor, Street 63/Street 142, Phnom Penh; T: (081) 666 210;
Major Cineplex: Aeon Mall, top floor, Sothearos Blvd, Phnom Penh; T: (023) 901 111;
The Empire: #34, Street 130, Phnom Penh;
The Flicks: #39B, Street 95, Phnom Penh; T: (078) 809 429;
Meta House: #37 Sothearos Blvd, Phnom Penh; T: (010) 312 333;

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