Reykjavík’s only downtown movie theatre, Bíó Paradís, expects to close its doors this spring, RÚV reports. The theatre, known for programming award-winning foreign movies and hosting a variety of film festivals, has given its staff three months’ notice. The closure is a consequence of the theatre’s landlords nearly tripling the rent.
Bíó Paradís was opened in the fall of 2010, taking over from movie theatre Regnboginn. Along with screening foreign movies and hosting a variety of festivals, the theatre is an important venue for Icelandic film community, screening local films and hosting educational events for children “with the aim of enhancing knowledge and education of this important art form,” as the theatre’s website states.
The theatre’s landlords are former executives of the investment fund GAMMA. They have decided to nearly triple Bíó Paradís’ rent in order to raise it close to market value. Hrönn Sveinsdóttir, the cinema’s CEO, says the rent hike takes effect this coming July. “This issue is not about the owners. If it were any other investor, they would probably do the same thing,” Hrönn told reporters at Stundin. “The current owners were willing to rent to us at below market value but made it clear to me that after five years, on June 30, 2020, the rent would be raised.”
Hrönn says the cinema has appealed to the City of Reykjavík and the government for support, but with no success so far. Talks with the city are ongoing. “We’re still talking to them and we hope that it’s still possible to save this operation, the first and only home of cinema in Iceland.” Hrönn adds that the only way to keep Bíó Paradís operating is to ensure it can remain at its current location, as it would be too expensive to relocate.
An ongoing poll on Stundin’s website asks visitors to vote on whether they support the government funding the cinema in order to keep it open. As of the time of writing, 89% of respondents have voted that they “strongly support” government intervention.