Singapore’s first multiplex closes for renovations and PCK came to look-see

14 08 2010

The 11th of August had a lot to do with renovations and “Singapore’s favourite contractor”, Phua Chu Kang. Somehow, the day had started with the sight of him, and ended with the sight of him, not what one might think of a perfect day. The “Life” section of the morning’s newspaper had actually carried a photograph of PCK, as he is fondly referred to, with a caption urging him to hang his bright yellow boots up. In his article in Life which the large photograph and the less than flattering caption had referred to, John Lui had in fact given the lowdown on PCK, suggesting even that PCK should have ideally been involved in a fatal construction site accident. I guess this would have easily drawn my attention to the article, not having been much of a fan of PCK, but with an date with the “best in Singapore and JB and some say Batam” looming that evening at the GV Yishun (Yishun 10) renovation launch, I was more than interested in what John Lui had to say.

PCK arriving at Yishun 10 ... bright yellow boots and all!

Well, we all know that PCK is in fact a fictional character from the 1990s vintage local sitcom, PCK Pte Ltd, played convincing by actor Gurmit Singh, and John Lui was not harbouring any murderous intent and was in fact referring to the plot for the movie, Phua Chu Kang The Movie, which was to be screened at cinemas in Singapore the following day. I don’t really know if it was planned, or by some sheer coincidence, Yishun 10, having served the public for some 18 years since its opening in 1992 was to screen its last movie that evening before closing for some 3 months for extensive renovations. It seemed that it was a brilliant from a publicity viewpoint, that GV decided to have a GV Yishun Renovation Party that evening and engage the services of the man in the yellow boots.

GV Yishun held a renovation party to commemorate it's last screening before being closed for extensive renovations.

GV Yishun screened its last movie before its makeover on 11 Aug 2010.

I know that GV Yishun had turned a little grimy of late, but when it opened in May 1992, it represented a landmark in the cinema industry here in Singapore, being Singapore’s (and probably Asia’s) very first multiplex (somehow we refer to these as a cineplex these days). When the idea was conceived, Singapore had been dominated by the single screen cinemas of old, where everything was run very much in the old scheme of things. Tickets were bought over the counter at the Box Office, and seats were manually assigned, with patrons selecting them from a laminated cardboard plan at the counter and the Box Office clerk would then scribble the seat numbers onto the tickets with a chinagraph. The appearance of Yishun 10, looking as if it was a rocket ship that had dropped out of the sky onto the newly developed Yishun New Town (it was designed to look like a rocket ship that had landed in Yishun by the architect, Mr. Geoff Melone), changed all that, also bringing with it some futuristic concepts which included computerised ticketing that we now take for granted.

GV Yishun on its opening day in May 1992 ... it was designed to look like a rocket ship that had landed in Yishun by the architect, Mr. Geoff Melone (Photo provided by GV during the Renovation Party).

Yishun 10 was developed by a joint venture between Golden Harvest of Hong Kong and Village Roadshow from Australia, the then newly formed Golden Village, and there was much fanfare that accompanied its construction, with even Jackie Chan on hand to launch the final phase of construction and Carina Lau officiating at the opening ceremony. Featuring 10 cinema auditoriums, the multiplex revolutionised movie going in Singapore, giving audiences a choice of what to watch in a single location, and was seen to be a phenomenal success. It also set the benchmark for the industry, bringing with it plush carpets and much more comfortable seating, rendering the existing single and two screen cinemas unfashionable almost overnight.

Jackie Chan had a hand in launching the final phase of construction for Yishun 10.

Carina Lau photographed with Edmund Chen at the opening ceremony.

Now, some 18 years later, Yishun 10 has closed its doors, and for the three months it will remain closed, it will undergo a much needed extreme makeover (it is scheduled to reopen on 3 Nov 2010). To commemorate this occasion, GV somehow thought of this great idea to throw a renovation party, which turned out to be a whole load of fun for everyone present. Guests were first treated to a movie: Phua Chu Kang being the one I watched – a perfect choice, not so much for the movie itself, but that it fit the theme so well. Along with this, we could view an interesting “My Memories of Yishun 10” exhibition that provided much of the historical information contained in this post. There was also some interesting memories and memorabilia on display … transporting us back in time to the early days of the cineplex (which somehow doesn’t seem that long ago).

Memories of Yishun 10.

The best was yet to come though … after the movie, guests were also treated to the appearance of the contractor who claims to be the “best in Singapore and JB”, bright yellow boots and all, and his wife Rosie to add some fun to the whole evening. Next, was the highlight for many … a chance to take a piece of GV Yishun home at its a Demolition Hall … there was lots to grab, limited to one piece a person. Many were taken by the movie posters and movie poster stand ups … I am not sure how the guests who took the stand ups actually got them home … while it may not actually have been a perfect evening … with some initial poor crowd control at the demolition hall, I guess for some … it might have been a perfect evening.

Singapore's favourite contractor made an appearance with Rosie.

Guests were allowed to take home a piece of Yishun 10 at a demolition hall.

The crowd eagerly waiting to go into the demolition hall.

Inside the demolition hall.

Making a getaway with her loot! I wonder how she managed to get that home?

The proud new owners of a piece each of Yishun 10.

A final look at the Yishun 10 as it was:




One response

17 08 2010

[…] The Long and Winding Road: Singapore’s first multiplex closes for renovations and PCK came to look… […]

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