Huge crowds line up for free seats to patriotic Thai movie

Huge crowds line up for free seats to patriotic Thai movie
A Thai soldier directs Thai people as they push their way into a cinema as the ruling military junta offered free entry into cinemas for the movie screening of the Thai film The Legend of King Naresuan 5 in Bangkok, Thailand, 15 June 2014.

THAILAND - Some cinemas volunteered to add more seats, and possibly even more sessions, to meet the overwhelming demand. Security from police and the Army was strong - but there were no reports of anti-coup threats to interrupt the sessions.

Responding to the private sector's reported offer of an additional free session, National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvaree said it might be arranged, in which case a date and time would be announced. He said any free show would result from the private sector's kindness and the NCPO had not coerced any theatres to make the offer.

Initially, 30,000 free tickets were reserved for the 11am showing of the patriotic movie at 160 theatres nationwide - as part of the NCPO's operation to "return happiness to Thai people". But many theatres could not provide enough tickets to cope with the number of patrons who flocked for free admission. People reportedly started making lines at 6am to get tickets, and a few theatres reported disturbances when the free passes ran out.

The ticket shortage prompted Major Ratchayothin cinema in Bangkok to add more seats - 230 for the 11am show and an additional 720 for the 11.30am screening. The theatre also sold tickets at Bt120 for those who missed out on free tickets.

Siam Paragon theatre, which had 243 free seats available, opened another viewing room to cater for 243 more - but some disgruntled people still missed out on free seats and were calmed down by Army officers. Siam Paragon reduced the price from Bt220 to Bt130 for all movies in the morning, in a bid to solve the problem.

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