I came across a document that contains a list of movie theaters in French Indochina in 1951.

The distribution of theaters is predicatable: 14 in Hà Nội, 12 in Sài Gòn, 10 in Hải Phòng, 8 in Phnom Penh, 6 in Chợ Lớn, 3 in Đà Lạt, 2 in Đà Nẵng, and 1 each in Huế, Nha Trang, Vũng Tàu, and Hải Dương.

movie theaters

Meanwhile, the number of seats in these theaters was as follows: 7,500 in Sài Gòn, 6615 in Hà Nội, 5350 in Phnom Penh, 4450 in Chợ Lớn, 4370 in Hải Phòng, 1320 in Đà Lạt, 900 in Đà Nẵng, 500 in Huế, 350 in Nha Trang, 350 in Vũng Tàu, and 250 in Hải Dương.

movie theater Seats

While there is not much that is surprising from these numbers, there are a few things that seem obvious. The high number of movie theaters in cities was not just due to the fact that there were more people there, but also to the fact that there were more Chinese there as well.

There was, for instance, a “Trung Quốc” (“China”) theater in Chợ, Lớn, Hải Phòng, Hà Nội and Phnom Penh. Some of the other theaters must have focused on Chinese films as well.

theater names 1

It is interesting to see that there was only one theater in Huế. I wonder if this was merely due to its smaller population, or if the culture of the old imperial capital somehow discouraged the development of the movie theater industry there.

theater names 2

It is also interesting to see how large the movie theater industry in Phnom Penh was, as well as the fact that there appears to have been a total absence of movie theaters in Laos.