PROGRES.ID– The first movie theater in Indonesia emerged in December 1900, located on Tanah Abang I Street, Central Jakarta. At that time, the ticket price for Class I was two guilders (silver), while Class II tickets were sold for half a guilder.
Movie theaters in the past were typically set up around Gambir Square (now Monas). The movie theater buildings during that era resembled sheds with walls made of thatch and roofs of tin or zinc. After the film screenings were over, these movie theaters were taken to other cities. One of these theaters was known as Talbot, named after the cinema entrepreneur. There were also other attempts to establish theaters by someone named Schwarz, located around Kebon Jahe, Tanah Abang. Before it was eventually destroyed in a fire, this theater was situated in a building in Pasar Baru. Jules Francois de Calonne also established a cinema that bore his name, located in Deca Park. De Calonne initially had an open-air cinema in a field, similar to what is now known as an “open-air cinema,” which unfortunately didn’t last long. De Calonne laid the foundation for the Capitol cinema, located at Pintu Air.
Other cinemas, such as Elite at Pintu Air, Rex in Kramat Bunder, Cinema in Krekot, Astoria, Capitol at Pintu Air, Centraal in Jatinegara, Rialto in Senen and Tanah Abang, Surya in Tanah Abang, Thalia in Hayam Wuruk, Olimo, Orion in Glodok, Al Hambra in Sawah Besar, Oost Java on Jl. Veteran, Rembrandt at Pintu Air, Widjaja on Jalan Tongkol/Pasar Ikan, Rivoli in Kramat, Chatay on Jl. Gunung Sahari, and many others emerged and became popular destinations after the 1940s.
The films screened in cinemas in the past were silent films. Film screenings were usually accompanied by orchestral music, although often the music did not synchronize with the film. Some popular films of that era included Fantomas, Zigomar, Tom Mix, Edi Polo, Charlie Chaplin, Max Linder, Arsene Lupin, and others.
In 1951, in Jakarta, the Metropole cinema was officially opened with a seating capacity of 1,700, equipped with blowing and suction ventilation technology, a three-story building with a dance hall and a swimming pool on the top floor. In 1955, the Indra cinema in Yogyakarta began to expand its cinema complex with shops and restaurants.
The early days of the New Order in Indonesia were seen as a promising period for the film industry, both in terms of the number of domestic film productions and the development of cinema facilities. This progress reached its peak in the 1990s. During that decade, national film production reached 112 titles. Since 1987, the concept of multiplex cinemas (cinemas with multiple screens) has been growing. These multiplexes are usually located in shopping centers or malls, which have become popular hangout spots for young people and urban communities. Around these multiplexes, supermarkets, fast-food restaurants, toy stores, and various other facilities are also available.
Multiplex cinemas not only expanded in major cities but also spread to sub-districts because the government provided tax incentives by refunding entertainment taxes to “front-end cinemas.” As a result, in 1990, the number of cinema screens in Indonesia reached its peak at 3,048 screens. Previously, in 1987, there were only 2,306 cinema screens throughout Indonesia.
The 2000s saw the widespread expansion of cinema networks in Indonesia. Two well-known cinema operators are 21 Cineplex with cinemas like 21, XXI, and The Premiere, as well as the Blitzmegaplex network. These cinemas are scattered in shopping centers all over Indonesia, and sometimes one shopping center has more than one cinema. The films screened come from both domestic and foreign sources, although in the early 2000s until around 2005, domestic film production rarely made it into cinema networks. It wasn’t until 2006 that domestic films began to find a place in Indonesian cinemas, and this trend continues to this day.