Report - - Dadong Theater, Zhongli, Taiwan - July 2020 | European and International Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Dadong Theater, Zhongli, Taiwan - July 2020


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Theatres are to Taiwan what mills are to the North of England - wherever you are in the country (yes, I said country), there’s almost guaranteed to be one close at hand to have a poke around in. Much like in the West, home media, shopping-centre based multiplexes, and the expensive transition to digital projection killed off many independent cinemas, although in Taiwan many of them still haven’t been redeveloped, and instead sit dormant and rotting - often because of the complexities inherent in Taiwanese property law regarding cases of shared ownership.

Dadong Theater is located close to the center of Zhongli, a sprawling Northern city in Taoyuan District, just a short train ride from Taipei. Business records indicate that it was registered in 1956, but these aren’t always accurate in trying to find exactly when trading started, and I found reference to drama events taking place there in news reports as early as 1954, so let’s just say it was probably opened in the early 1950s to be safe. The cinema had a decent run, but was finally forced to close for good in 2006 with no-one ever bothering to clear out all the interesting stuff still inside.


The exterior - peppered with the stubby iron ends of where the billboard lattices were once affixed.


The main ticket booth - each screen has its own window and there are 5 screens: A, B, Yellow, Red, and Blue

Speaking of the inside, the interior would originally have just been one huge auditorium (probably with two-tiers of seating from what little I can see of the original construction), but with falling ticket sales it’s since been aggressively subdivided into 5 separate screens in an attempt to diversify showings and increase commercial appeal. Interestingly, in order to fit everything in and have it be accessible, there are 2 corridors on either side, spanning the entire length of the building, but these have obviously been built (quite haphazardly) outside the original structure in order to maximise the available space. Now they’re pretty much open to the sky, and deteriorated to almost nothing.


One of the external corridors running around the side of the building

Here’s a rough diagram of the cinema layout from memory (not to scale!) which will hopefully get you better orientated for the photos - the interior feels way more labyrinthine then it comes across here, probably because the inner depths are pretty dark, and some of the interior cladding and upper corridors have collapsed making traversal a little more of a chore.


And so on with the main photos:


The main lobby, you can see the entrance for the Red screen in the distance on the left.


The cramped ticket booth - whichever window you choose you'll get served by the same person anyway!


Check for counterfeit currency


The Red screen, suffering a little bit of rooftop cladding collapse


This is either the Yellow screen, or screen A, honestly can't remember


Being watched intently in the projector room for the Yellow and Red screens. These projectors are your standard issue Xenon-arc affairs you'll find in most derelict Taiwanese cinemas - made just up the road in Taipei!


Golden Kowa brand anamorphic lens


Trailer reels


Weird angles in screen A. Not such a good view if you get the right-hand seats


Screen A and B projector room - handily labelled!


Trailer for erotic thriller Basic Instinct 2


Up into the offices on the 1st floor


Projector front-assembly undergoing maintenance next to a poster for Poison Ivy (1992)


There used to be a tradition of hand-painting movie posters and billboards in Taiwan, now there are only 2 painters left (as far as I'm aware) in the whole of the country still in employment.


And here are some of those painted billboards (with the exception of the Shark Tale promo piece)


Promotional displays for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)


The Beeb sure does get around.


What those destroyed side-corridors used to look like.


Onto the Blue screen hiding towards the back of the building. This one is a little cleaner


Finally, the Blue screen's very slapdash projector room, accessed via a ladder.

And that's all folks! Sadly, Dadong is busy being demolished right now as we speak - the incoming MRT connections to Zhongli are prompting a lot of redevelopment as land prices adjust accordingly, and this is one of many old structures that'll be razed in this process. I wouldn't say it's the prettiest building, but I bet it looks a damn sight better than whatever replaces it.


Calamity Jane

i see beauty in the unloved, places & things
Regular User
This is really cool. Those projectors are great. Youve done a great job describing your explore & the workings. I do think some of the International sites dont get the recognition they deserve. Loved this.:thumb


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
This is really cool. Those projectors are great. Youve done a great job describing your explore & the workings. I do think some of the International sites dont get the recognition they deserve. Loved this.:thumb
Thanks - Taiwanese cinemas don't generally have the grand, ornate designs that you often get here or in the States, but they have their own unique charm!

Bikin Glynn

28DL Regular User
Regular User
That's cracking that.
Kowa still make great birdwatching scopes