Get your fix of indie film at Projector X: Picturehouse, a new pop-up cinema at The Cathay

Pop-up cinema Projector X: Picturehouse, run by independent cinema The Projector, opens today (August 19) in space formerly occupied by Cathay Cineplex in The Cathay building on Handy Road.

It kicks off this soft launch with three special titles that will be screened from Friday to Sunday.

The first film is Singapore’s musical documentary Scene Unseen (2021). Then came horror classic The Shining (1980) on Saturday and local military comedy Army Daze (1996) on Sunday.

Special events will also take place. Expect a live DJ set after the Scene Unseen screening and free popcorn for those wearing The Shining-themed outfits.

The soft launch aims to iron out operational issues, says The Projector’s managing director, Prashant Somosundram.

In addition to special titles, regular fare such as Jordan Peele’s sci-fi horror Nope (2022) and Oscar-nominated Japanese drama Drive My Car (2021) have been added to the opening schedule.

When fully operational from August 27, the cinema aims to screen both arthouse and arthouse content, Mr Somosundram said.

(Read more: Why cinemas don’t disappear, according to Clara Cheo, CEO of Golden Village)

Behind the pop-up project

Cathay Cineplex ceased operations on June 27 following a cost rationalization exercise by its operator mm2 Asia.

The Cathay Cinema on Handy Road had been operating since 1939 and was Singapore’s first air-conditioned cinema. It is housed in a historic building which is now a protected national monument.

The Spotlight has operated at the Golden Mile Tower on Beach Road since 2014. Owner Cathay Organization then offered them the space to run a pop-up, similar to the one the Spotlight launched at Riverside Point in 2021.

Projector X: Picturehouse will use four rooms for regular screenings. They include the small 25-seat premium room and the largest space, the 592-seat room, as well as two other rooms, with 292 and 250 seats respectively.

The remaining four rooms not used for screenings can still function as art and theater spaces, says Somosundram.

(Read more: The Evolution of Singapore Cinema)

What to expect at Projector X: Picturehouse

The No Spoilers bar will have a full kitchen and will serve drinks including wine, beer and cocktails. Dishes include sticky Korean popcorn chicken, beef cheek rendang, and vegan bowls.

The bar will adopt environmentally friendly policies, such as composting food waste. They will also give discounts to those who bring their own takeout containers.

The open spaces were filled with recycled furniture, most of which was donated by friends of The Projector.

Spaces include the Bladerunner Ballroom, which will host art exhibits in the future. Other activities include live events such as DJ nights, live cabarets and spoken word performances.

The name of the pop-up pays homage to the arthouse cinema The Picturehouse.

Opened in 1990, it was demolished to make way for the current The Cathay building on Handy Road, which opened in 2006. One of the venues at the then recently opened Cathay Cineplex was called The Picturehouse.

(Read more: Founder of arthouse cinema The Projector champions local films before they go big)

Despite the challenges, excitement prevails

Ms Karen Tan, founder of The Projector, is excited to launch the pop-up despite the challenges, such as the costs of setting up what may turn out to be a short-term project. According to the terms of the lease, the end date of the pop-up cannot be disclosed.

She says: “But we had to do it anyway because it’s a rare opportunity to exploit a space outside of The Cathay, which has such an illustrious history.”

Mr Somosundram calls the pop-up a “validation” for The Projector. This given that a donor in a central area was willing to entrust their space to a relatively young organization.

He says: “For eight years, we have been managing a niche space. For Cathay Organization, being interested in the work we do was quite important to us.

For more information on the Projector X: Picturehouse movie schedule and reservations, visit The Projector’s website.

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This story originally appeared in The Straits Times.