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Beijing Journal: In China’s Capital, a Portal to Hollywood’s Golden Age

Cinker is a contemporary twist on a turn of the 20th century movie hall, the Electric, in the London neighborhood Notting Hill Gate, where the audience sits on plush sofas, armchairs — even beds — and movies are shown on a stage dominated by a gilded ornate proscenium.

Mr. Yan recalls going to the Electric with his girlfriend. “It is a vintage cinema, you could lie down on a sofa, have a cocktail from the bar, watch a movie — an amazing experience.”

They chose a similar upscale district in Beijing called Sanlitun, which, like Notting Hill Gate, was a down-at-heel bar quarter in the late 1980s and ’90s, with dozens of foreign embassy buildings along its edges.

Then, artists rented hole-in-the-wall spaces to be close to the diplomats who could afford to buy their paintings, and in the early 2000s, the director Quentin Tarantino lent a movie flavor when he hung out at a night spot called Vogue and worked on shooting his first martial arts movie, “Kill Bill,” during the day.

Beijing’s city planners had other ideas than allowing valuable central real estate lie idle to low-paying renters. In the mid-2000s, the seediness gave way to China’s first Apple Store, then fashion boutiques, and now a decade later, a Mercedes Me showroom with the most expensive models spilling onto a plaza with giant screen videos and a high-end cafe nearby.

Source: NYT > World

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