City of Manila

Reminiscing the cinematic glitter: the old movie theaters of downtown Manila (Part III: along Recto Avenue)

Claro M. Recto Avenue in Manila is an interesting thoroughfare in that it has served to link Manila’s educational and commercial hubs. As such, the area around that road formerly known as Calle Azcarraga is an area of bustling activity.that has made it a prominent Manila thoroughfare through the years.

Recto theaters
the Urban Roamer’s map of the Recto movie theaters through Google Earth. this is not considered authoritative. also, there is a movie theater not included in this map, U-Belt Theater as there is no documentation found yet as to its approximate location.

There were about a dozen or so movie theaters that used to stand along this stretch of the road. Around the University Belt side of Recto alone, there were the Manila Cinema and U-Belt Cinema, (which I don’t know what sites they are now) as well as the “big four” of the U-Belt Recto area which happen to be all located close to each other, Miramar and Maxim along the westbound side and Eastern and Tandem right across them. There were other movie theaters in Recto’s U-Belt area as well like the Manila Cinema and the U-Belt Cinema as well.

the former Maxim Cinema
the former Eastern Cinema, now for retail space
the former Tandem, now leased out to commercial space
the former Miramar movie theater no longer exists, but this Jollibee branch is still known as the Miramar branch

Arguably, the most renowned of the Recto theaters can be found a few steps away right at the corner of Quezon Boulevard. This would be the Roman Super Cinerama, which was like the IMAX of its day back in the 1960s in the sense that it was one of the few movie theaters in the country that catered to a specific film format: the widescreen, panoramic Cinerama format. (hence the name) The theater was also a trendsetter as well as it had the first escalator, as well as the first movie theater to have carpeting. Unlike the IMAX however, the Cinerama format was not able to survive well in the midst of the advances being made in movie-making technology. Roman and other Cinerama theaters felt the effects of such decline while at the same time, the Roman Cinerama was heavily gutted during a fire in the 1970s. Today, the Cinerama’s legacy lives on in a way with the presence of a mall of retailer Isetann which has dubbed it “Cinerama Mall.”


Further down the road almost near Rizal Avenue on the same eastbound side as Cinerama stands two theaters that still operate to this day. One is Hollywood which shows second-run R-rated films (and quite an infamous den for…you know what I mean) and right next door or two to it is Dilson, which caters more to second-run Hollywood B films. Two theaters used to be located across them: one is Podmon which is now the site of the Line 2 Recto station. The other one is Odeon, arguably one of the biggest movie theaters in the area located right in the corner of Recto and Rizal Avenue. The movie theater business of Odeon no longer exists, but the building still stands and is converted into a shopping mall.

Hollywood Theater along Recto



Across Odeon was Dynasty, located where a branch of Chinese fastfood chain Chowking now stands. Next to Dynasty are a couple of movie theaters that are still in operation. One is Roben, which also holds the distinction of being the only movie theater in the area that still shows first-run films, Hollywood films especially. Next door is Vista, which shows either first-run or second-run films. Vista also has the distinction of having a hotel operation as well to complement the theater side of the business that is being run by the same group that runs CityState banks and hotels.



To be continued…

Acknowledgements to the same sources in Part 1, as well as to the site The Rojases of Cavite



The rest of the series can be accessed here: Downtown Manila movie theaters


© The Urban Roamer


  • renpil

    There is also a theater named “Recto Cinema Theater”. Can somebody give me details of the exact location of that theater? Does Podmon is in Dilson side or Odeon side of LRT Recto station?


    Thanks for your article about old theaters along Recto and Rizal Avenue! It brought back so many memories of “sexcapades” in those places in my college days! In all those experiences, mainly to satisfy one’s libidos with men/gays/ bis’…these were still part of a young…grwoing up life. These were mainly positive experiences, to satisfy once urges and very, very few negative experiences… nothing tragic!!! Others were even willing to do it in their places where they stay.

    The last positive in many ways of meeting another college young man and we became ‘lovers’ for several decades and up this date we still communicate from time to time who lives in another part of the world!

    Reminiscing the old days!

    • Wayne Moises

      I remember the Maxim Theater I watch the epic monster movie & a remake of RKO Radio Pictures 1933 film released in 1976 King Kong together with my Grandma/Lola aunt & my cousins too to watch & enjoy the movie.

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