Pet ownership grew during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Covid-19 pandemic period saw a sharp rise in pet ownership all around the world. Two of the primary causes were the feeling of isolation during lockdown and the widespread view that having a pet improves mental wellness.
As a result of spending more time away from home, the majority of pet owners have increased the amount they spend on their animals.
But despite the rise in pet ownership, taking your pet to the movies or the theatre has only remained a faraway dream for pet owners.
Now, Thailand's pet owners have a facility to fulfil their dream of watching movies with their dogs and cats.
Dozens of four-legged filmgoers arrived in strollers Saturday for the opening of Thailand's first pet-friendly cinema on the fringes of the capital. They all geared up to watch Disney's 'The Little Mermaid' with their owners.
The country's pet industry is considered the second-biggest in Asia, behind China's, with some 8.3 million dogs and 3.7 million cats in 2021, according to industry data.
Pet ownership grew further during the coronavirus pandemic, and now some businesses are trying to cash in.
The animals had to wear diapers and sit in bags while the sound and lighting were adjusted for their comfort, Major Cineplex spokesman Narute Jiensnong said.
"Bangkok is not a very pet-friendly city," Narute told AFP, adding that the concept was built on their child-friendly theatres.
Narute noted that some pets acquired during the pandemic suffer from separation anxiety now that owners are no longer working from home or in lockdown.
"In the kid cinemas, kids will be running around screaming or shouting... I think pet cinema will be the same. Everyone who comes will own a pet and be understanding (if dogs bark)," he said.
It is not the only business opening its doors to furry visitors.
Earlier this month, Swedish furniture giant Ikea announced that small dogs and cats were welcome to visit its Thailand stores, as long as they sat in prams.
Outside the cinema, there were howls of disappointment as a 62-kilogram Alaskan Malamute named Tungchae, who arrived in a 1.5-square-metre dog trolley equipped with a fan, was considered too big to enter.
Despite the cinemas' animal welfare safeguards, not all pet owners were thrilled about the idea.
One long-time Bangkok expat said that, while her cat frequently falls asleep beside her on the couch watching TV at home, she would never take her pet to the cinema and thinks the concept is "unnatural" and "torture".
"Being zipped up in this cage, I don't know if that's enjoyable for the animal," she told AFP.
"It's so ridiculous that dogs are not allowed in (most Bangkok) parks, but they can go to a movie or cafe. What comes next? You bring your dog or cat to a massage parlour?"