Going to the Cinema in Salvador, Brazil

The other day, I wanted to go and see a movie. Luckily, there were two cinemas on the map in Avenida José Joacquim Seabra, right around the corner from where I live in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.

The Cine Teatro Jandaia was closer, so I stopped there first. It’s a huge block of concrete, with a curious mix of fascist-brutalist and art déco style.

cinema Teatro Jandaia outside 1cinema Teatro Jandaia outside 2

But it didn’t look very open. Or actually, it looked too open, for many of the windows were broken, half of the roof had collapsed and trees were growing inside of the building. Mind you, this is in a very busy and active shopping street, not in some deserted part of town.

Through the windows, I could get a glimpse of the grandeur that this cinema used to display. For example this large rosette on the ceiling:

cinema Teatro Jandaia rosette

I had already become less interested in watching a movie than in the history of the Cine Teatro Jandaia itself.

But there was one more cinema in the same road, the Tupy, and maybe it would be open. At first sight, it didn’t look too promising either. The choice of colors and the typeface looked like 1950s/1960s. But then, the door was open and the sign promised “two films every day”, adding – in smaller print – “erotic ones”. That was not what I had come looking for.


Although the door was open, I thought that this porn cinema must have been put out of business by the internet. The ticket office didn’t look very active. But then I saw the note posted to the left of the small window, announcing that from 1 December 2015 the price for a ticket would be “readjusted” to 8 reals (= 2 USD). So, this place was still in business, and as I had become more curious about the cinema itself, I thought for a moment: “What the heck, 2 dollars for the crazy experience of sitting in a porn theater from the 1950s with some Brazilian guys (or alone) and watching a film in Portuguese (maybe also from the 1950s) is worth it.”


But nobody sat behind the window. There was no note announcing the times of the two daily shows (lousy marketing). And probably, I would have been to shy anyway.

Instead, I went home to research the story of the two cinemas. The Tupy had indeed opened in 1956 and hadn’t changed much, except that the small letters announcing the “erotic” content were a recent addition. In their place, it used to say “explicit sex” in large letters.


Well, maybe it has become less explicit over time.

The Cine Teatro Jandaia is even older. First opened in 1910 and rebuilt in 1931, it was operated by different companies, but the last owner showed double features of porn and martial arts. The kind of cinema where Quentin Tarantino would hang out at. It closed in 1993, too early to blame the internet for it.

I found some magnificent photos from the inside of this theater and one from its glory days:

cinema Teatro Jandaia 1cinema Teatro Jandaia 2cinema Teatro Jandaia 3

cinema Teatro Jandaia 4

cinema Teatro Jandaia 5

Only one screen, but 2,100 seats. The exact opposite of today’s multiplex cinemas. And possibly the reason it didn’t survive.

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Brazil, Cinema, Photography, Travel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Going to the Cinema in Salvador, Brazil

  1. Cecilia says:

    Oh my!!! Haha really? I cant stop to laugh!!!
    You should call to a friend… Maybe one could give support to the other and you 2 could get a really funny experience. I loved the history.

  2. Cecilia says:

    For sure yes!! I cant Belive that you missed this chance.
    It would be a unforgeteble date! I think that girl would be very embarasing, but for sure
    Laugthing a lot!!!

  3. Dino Bragoli says:

    Amazing to see how things can change, they must have been expensive to build and maintain. Another great article from you.

    • Thank you!
      Yes, and unlike today’s cinemas, they were built with style and attention to detail, so probably much more expensive (comparatively) than today’s cinemas. Damn TV, it destroyed the cinemas. Without it, I would go there every night to watch the news.

  4. Miriam says:

    What a very entertaining read.

  5. religionerased says:

    There is something about old abandoned buildings that fills me with curiosity.. Mainly because of the contrast between now and a very busy then.

  6. Mat says:

    Again you missed the point… The Tupy is nowadays a meeting point for very cheap hookers and clients
    More infos in portuguese: http://impressaodigital126.com.br/?p=22250

  7. Pingback: Vor hundert Jahren lief ein Film, den es eigentlich nicht geben hätte dürfen – März 1922: Nosferatu | Der reisende Reporter

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