If drinking in any of Phnom Penh’s numerous watering holes isn’t your idea of a good time, you can always go to the movies.
Martin and Jeanette Robinson opened The Flicks, a small cinema on Street 95, three months ago for ex-pats and tourists who like going to the cinema and who might not like going to bars, at least not every night.
“It was in response to the fact that there’s bugger all to do other than drinking,” says Martin Robinson, a native of Wellington, New Zealand.
There are other venues in the city that show films. The French Cultural Centre shows French films that sometimes have English subtitles. Meta House shows films, but they’re usually documentaries.
The couple realized that there weren’t any cinemas in Phnom Penh that offer English language dramas, action flicks and comedies. And after concluding that their original plan to open a bar/guesthouse wasn’t particularly feasible in the current market in Phnom Penh, they decided to open a cinema that plays locally purchased DVDs.
With a background in construction, Martin Robinson then began to build the cinema. The venue consists of a fairly large screen, surround sound and large, mattress-sized cushions for the first few rows and seating for the rows at the back of the cinema.
“We started out with cushions – no chairs. But now we have chairs so we’re getting more older people coming,” he says.
Almost all of the customers who come to The Flicks are ex-pats, and most of them are in the 25-40 age range.
“We’d love to have tourists everyday, but they’re not around right now,” he says.
The cinema has a capacity for 24 people. But as the facility is rented out for parties, more people can be squeezed in, Robinson says.
The monthly movie schedule appears on ladypenh.com and the Ex-Pat Advisory Services website.
Action flicks have proven to be popular at the fledgling cinema, he says. “X-men,” “Bruno,” “Terminator,” “Salvation” and the most recent “Star Trek” movie were shown at The Flicks. And “Kill Bill” and its sequel were recently shown as a double feature.
“Some of the classics have been a hit like ‘Apocalypse Now’ and ‘The Shining’,” Robinson points out.
The cinema has featured other favorites including “Pirate Radio,” “Slumdog Millionaire” and “The Soloist.” Even older films such as “Dr. Strangelove” have been popular, he says.
“That was a hit. We weren’t expecting so many people to show up,” Robinson says.
The movie house has held theme nights such as “Auzzie Night” and “Kiwi Night”.
For private parties, Robinson says some people prefer to bring their own DVDs.
Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights draw the biggest crowds, while Friday nights are slow, says Jeanette Robinson.
“Everybody’s out drinking on Friday nights,” she says.
Show times are at 4pm, 6pm, 8pm and 10pm on week days and 2pm, 4pm, 6pm, 8pm and 10pm on the weekends. Children’s movies are shown on Saturdays and Sundays at 11:30am and on Tuesdays at 4pm.
The Flicks recently held a party for kids, which Martin Robinson says was quite popular.
“It was the first time I heard the audience over the movie,” he says.
Tickets are $3.50 for adults and $2 for kids under 14.