The Sambíó theatre chain has invited the Bíó Paradís cinema to continue its operations in its facilities in the Kringlan shopping mall, Vísir reports. The invitation comes following the announcement this week that the popular downtown cinema, known for programming award-winning foreign movies and hosting a variety of film festivals, will be forced to close on April 30 due to a rent increase.
A press release issued by representatives of Sambíó put forth the idea that Bíó Paradís could potentially be given a few of the theatres in its Kringlan location. “Kringlan has a very central location and very good services,” read the statement. “Sambíó Kringlan is a very popular theatre for older cinema-goers who want to see high-quality films. Oscar-winning films have been very popular at Kringlan, along with live screenings of performances staged by the Metropolitan Opera. The theatre is also popular with families.” A collaboration with Bíó Paradís would, therefore, make sense for Sambíó’s broad audience, explains the press release.
Bíó Paradís was opened in the fall of 2010, taking over from movie theatre Regnboginn. It has been an important venue for the Icelandic film community ever since. The theatre’s landlords, former executives of the investment fund GAMMA, have decided to nearly triple its rent in order to bring the space in better alignment with its market value.
Bío Paradís ‘vital to daily life and culture in downtown Reykjavík’
Calls for the government to support the downtown institution have poured in since the announcement of its imminent closure was made. A Stundin poll asking readers to vote on whether they support government funding for the cinema has seen high support, with 86% of its 6,133 respondents saying they “strongly support” government funding and 5% saying that they “support” it.
On Friday, the Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland issued a statement urging the City of Reykjavík to take whatever measures necessary to ensure the continued operations of the theatre, which they consider “vital to daily life and culture in downtown Reykjavík.” In its statement, the Agency noted that a 2019 conservation assessment of the cinema’s space at Hverfisgata 54 found that it had average to high conservation value due to its cultural history and cultural and educational programming.
“…[I]t is the only operating cinema left in downtown Reykjavík,” continued the Agency statement. “And thus is a living testimony to this aspect of popular culture and entertainment in Reykjavík. The operation of the ground-floor cinema adds a lot to street life and atmosphere on Hverfisgata.”
Bíó Paradís CEO Hrönn Sveinsdóttir says the cinema has appealed to the City of Reykjavík and the government for support, but talks are still ongoing.