Astor cinema in downtown Athens is back in business

The Astor cinema is open for business again in the arcade on bustling Korai Square, off Stadiou Street, in a part of the Greek capital that has been associated with cinema for more than two centuries and was home to the city’s first movie theater in 1908.

The Astor opened in 1947. It closed in 2005 and reopened for a brief stint in 2010. Now it has been given a complete makeover in terms of furnishing and technology and reopened just a few weeks ago under the management of distribution company Weird Wave.

According to the firm’s public relations manager, Thanasis Patsavos, the program will not be restricted to Weird Wave movies.

“Obviously we are interested in promoting our films, but not exclusively,” he told Kathimerini. “There will be plenty more films, though they will be consistent with our genre, which is auteur cinema. We also want to organize other cinema-related activities and tributes and participate in festivals.”

With movie attendance at an all-time low as cash-strapped Greeks feel the impact of the crisis, the opening of yet another cinema (following the Alkyonida and Studio last year) may seem a bit risky right now.

“We believe that we can help smaller productions that have problems finding distribution outlets,” explained Patsavos. “It is also important for these films to be given time, to have a show run of several weeks so that people get a chance to hear about them.”

Weird Wave is expecting the Astor’s reopening to be a success, particularly because the theater is located in an area with such a rich cinema tradition, and between two historical movie houses that are no longer in operation: the Asty, which closed due to financial troubles and the Attikon, which was torched and destroyed during violent anti-austerity riots in Athens in 2012.

“In harmony with the lively atmosphere generated by the cafes and stores in the arcade, we hope to make taking in a movie a part of a relaxed night out,” said Patsavos. “We like the idea that our patrons can read their newspaper over a coffee before or after the screening in a chilled-out setting.”

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