Capitol Theatre, Singapore

Built in 1933, the Capitol Theatre was one of Singapore’s most recognisable theatres. The last movie was screened on 29 Dec 1998 and it ceased to be a movie theatre after that. There were plans to redevelop the area for some time, but nothing really happened and there were no news of it until recently.

I always had an interest in historical buildings so I wanted to take some photos of it before it comes a frankenstein of old and new, what happened to Cathay Cinema after their revamp.

The most recognisable part of the theatre is the facade of the Capitol Building at the junction of North Bridge Road and Stamford Road. I remembered there used to be movie posters on it, but these were sadly gone for more than a decade now. Due to the impending redevelopment, the shops within have also moved out/closed.

Capitol Building

The actual Capitol Theatre is actually behind this facade, accessible by a small road by the side of the building. It’s been boarded up for quite some time now. For a comparison, this is how it looked like in the 80s. This was shot in B&W film when I am still in school and learning photography.

The Capitol Building circa 1988.

The actual theatre is actually at the back.

The facade of the Capitol Theatre
Close up of the facade of the Capitol Theatre

I walked around the area, looking for things to photograph. Most of the area was boarded up so there was not much to see. Then I came across an open door which led to the cinema hall. It was quite a surprise! I’d have thought after so many years of disuse, they’d have removed the seats and cleared out the hall for whatever purpose, but they are more or less intact. Even the retro-looking electric fan is still there.

Despite the bright and hot sun outside, the interior was still rather dark. The sunlight had only managed to light up a few rows of the back seats. I didn’t really want to venture inside as it was pitch black and no one know what lurks within. I also didn’t want to setup my tripod there as I don’t want to deal with pesky security or other people forbidding photography (getting common these days) so I simply popped the built-in flash and took a shot.

It didn’t seem to do much from what I can see on the LCD. Didn’t look too inspring so I moved on. Back home when I was doing the post-processing, I increased the exposure in Lightroom and lo-and-behold, there was some detail which can be seen, including what looks like a horse with wings to the left of the stage/screen. I’ve also added a preset effect “Yesteryear 1” to give it an old look. Here’s the finished photo.

Capitol Theatre Hall

With this discovery, I might go back to explore again before the whole area gets cordoned off and re-developed. I’d encourage anyone interested to do so too.


  1. We’ve been inside the Capitol Theatre too, but we didn’t brought any equipment at that time. Anyways, we are planning to maybe do some HDR timelapse video of the interior, and do you have any idea who owns the place so i can seek for permission?



    1. Unfortunately, I don’t know who owns the place now. Probably the URA. I just sneaked in to take a shot. What you are doing sounds very interesting, hope to see the final results! 🙂

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