Former Rex cinema KL site ravaged by fire

Rex KL in its heyday.

16 Aug – The Red Dragon hostel in Jalan Sultan, KL, formerly the iconic Rex KL cinema building, was ravaged by fire early yesterday morning at 8.30am.

A distress call was placed to the Fire and Rescue Department at 8.50am and five fire engines with a crew of 28 firemen were dispatched to the scene. Around 50 backpackers, whom were either sleeping or resting in the hostel at the time, fled uninjured during the fire. The fire took 90 minutes to put out.

Hang Tuah Fire and Rescue Department assistant operations director Md Ali Ismail said this morning that the "cause of the fire has yet to be determined" and the operators of the Red Dragon hostel could not be contacted for further update.

In the early 1970s, the original landmark Rex cinema, operated by the Shaw brothers, similarly burned down before it was taken over by Golden Communications Sdn Bhd. In the late 70s, Golden Communications evolved into Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC) as we know it today and Rex KL opened for business under its new management in 1976.

Rex KL was one of the largest cinemas in Malaysia with first-of-its-kind large seating capacities and it was the first to install digital sound processors in 1993 for the blockbuster "Jurassic Park". With its strategic high-traffic location, it was easily the most crowd-packing cinema of its time.

Rex KL reigned 'king' of cinemas for 25 years before it ceased operations on Nov 15, 2002. It was then turned into a hostel for backpackers earlier this year.