YANGON - With turquoise columns propping up a pink and yellow portico, Myanmar's art deco style Thwin cinema is a rare relic from a golden age of movie-making that dazzled audiences more than half a century ago.
Myanmar's film industry, once the most vibrant and prolific in the region, shrivelled under a military regime that smothered the arts and ravaged the economy during its ruthless 50-year reign.
Now as the fledgling democracy emerges from the doldrums of junta rule, the stage is set for a film industry renaissance.
But the first step is repopulating the poor country with cinemas.
In its heyday Myanmar had nearly 400 theatres spread across its hilly terrain. Today only some 50 remain, mostly in urban Rangoon.
"That is not enough for 53 million people," said Tin Maung Win, a garrulous businessman trying to bring movies back to the masses with a plan to build 100 new cinemas in two years.
The Thwin is the only theatre still selling tickets on what used to be known as Rangoon's "cinema row" -- a major city artery that once boasted six movie houses.
The others have been knocked down to make room for more lucrative development, while one stately cinema dating back to the 1920s has been boarded up for years.