Gerald Langiri
October 03 / 2011

As I kept sipping my overflowed coffee sitting next to my dad, his head shaking, facially showing pity to the Kenyan movie theatres. He still encourages me to take acting as a profession more serious. However, according to him back then or as the youth say Dem days, cinema halls brought entertainment to the masses that could not afford a TV set. His favourite movie series that time was Bond 007, smoking outside theatres, drinking coffee before the movie started was their thing, unlike now which is against the law. Instead of candy shops that offer popcorns and hot dogs, they ran coffee shops. He goes on and tells me, early 80s, it only cost Ksh 50 to watch a movie. In 1990s the cost went up to KSh. 200, now it will cost an average of Ksh. 2000 to treat your girlfriend to a movie and that is even before you start eating the popcorns and the burgers.

The main movie theatres were Nairobi Cinema, Kenya Cinema and 20th Century. Tycoons who owned cars, most of them being Indians could drive to Thika Road or Mombasa road for a Drive-in Cinema. There were also cinema halls like Cameo, Casino and Odeon which screened Golden Cowboy Movies, then Embassy Cinema was popular for Indian movies. That is his story but he still motivated me to make a list of all shut down cinema halls and the few which are still in the fight.

Closed Cinema hallsRemaining Cinema Halls
Kenya Cinema Nyali Cinemax
Cameo cinema 20th Century (IMAX)
Kailas Theatre in Machakos Century Cinemax (junction)
Nairobi Cinema Sarit Centre Fox Cineplex
Fox Drive In  
Bellevue Drive - In  
Fox Kisumu  
Dream Theatre  
Kenya Cinema Mombasa  
Odeon Cinema  
Prestige Cinemax  
Fox Capital 


Then recently the theatre on Ngong Road closed down around late April 2011. A week later, Prestige still on the same road closed, that not being the end, Silver Bird Movie House closed down in June 2011 but I will tell you more about Silver Bird saga in my next article.

Kenya Cinema


In Conclusion, two questions need to be answered fast:

1. In the next 10 or 15 years, will we still have cinema halls?
2. How shall we take Kenyan film industry to the next level yet cinema halls are in minimal numbers and a pirated DVD goes at ksh50 bob in River Road?

Written by James Musembi.
Pic Source: Sikh-Heritage</>

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