Pangrati’s Petit Palais in fear of closure

Some 40 years of history resides in the little theater at the intersection of Rizari and Vasileos Georgiou streets, but the historic Petit Palais, due to poor ticket sales, has fallen on hard times. «We are a good school of cinema,» said the movie theater’s director Alekos Lambrou, who sits behind the cash register. «But it is a shame to admit how many tickets we now sell. This year, for example, we didn’t keep a movie for more than two weeks. And next year, I don’t even know if we will be here. We may not have a choice.» He took over the Petit Palais 20 years ago, when the Astron cinema – which operated in Aegeleo at a time when it sold 300,000 tickets every season – finally closed. He started in the business as a youngster, working as a technician. He worked for seven or eight years as a projection mechanic in big theaters in Peristeri, and in 1967 he rented his own theater near Estavromenou Square. «At some point, I was screening four or five movies per week and two or three sold well. Now the question is if we will sell tickets.» For the old-time movie theater owners, the cinema was a way to view reality in a different way. «Unfortunately, the new public, the kids aged between 15 and 16 years old, are stuck in multiplexes,» he said. «You get in there, eat your popcorn and nothing happens. You go to see Woody Allen or Jim Carrey, but the effect is the same. We have moviegoers who grew up in this movie theater. Nostalgia is great, but at the end of the day you can’t live on that alone.»