Define your generation here. Generation What
Newly re-opened cinema hopes to add to Emad Eddin’s cultural revival
Courtesy: New Century Productions

After being closed for years, mid-century movie theater Cinema Karim re-opened on January 28.

Boasting 600 seats and located on the historic Emad Eddin Street in downtown Cairo, the cinema was recently acquired and renovated by New Century Productions — the company that hosts art house cinema Zawya at Odeon’s downtown multiplex.

Originally named Cinema Femina when it was first established in the 1940s, Cinema Karim was a hub for Greek cinema until the 1960s. It was later renamed Capitol and started screening new releases.

Zawya’s parent company Misr International Films, founded by late Egyptian director Youssef Chahine and still run by his family, owned both Cinema Karim and the Odeon at one point.

New Century General Manager Ahmed Badawy believes the re-opening of Cinema Karim will help bring larger audiences back to downtown Cairo’s movie houses.

“Downtown used to be one of the most important hubs for Egyptian cinema-goers. This has changed with the deterioration of the halls in the neighborhood,” he was quoted as saying in New Century’s press release.

“Now, with Cinema Karim’s re-opening with state-of-the-art equipment, we are striving to bring cinema audiences back to this vibrant neighborhood. Not only because it is the center of the nation’s capital, but also for its history and rich cultural role,” he declared.

The cinema is split into two halls, one housing 480 seats and the other 110. However, the two films it is currently screening are not much to get excited about: the Olivier Megaton-directed and Luc Besson-scripted French-American action thriller, Taken 3, and Claudio Fah’s Swiss historical action film, Northmen — A Viking Saga (both 2014).

The press release also stated that New Century has overseen restorations of the halls, both indoors and outdoors, to keep them in line with the building’s architectural heritage. The renovations took almost a year.

The area around Emad Eddin Street — which also hosts playwright Ahmed El Attar’s Studio Emad Eddin Foundation for performing arts and the Scherazade nightclub — was a center for entertainment in the early 20th century with its several cinemas, theaters and cabarets, but started losing its cultural significance in the 1960s. Its architecture is ornate and imposing.

Another Emad Eddin landmark, the Naguib al-Rihani Theater, is opening on February 9 as the Stara Theater with a concert by Aya Metwalli, Abdullah Miniawy and Ahmed Salah. The building was once run by the star actor Youssef Wahbe, who converted it from a cinema to a theater in 1922.

Established in 2005 as a production arm of Dollar Film, which was founded in 1949, New Century has co-produced films such as Mohamed Diab’s 678 (2010), Ahmad Abdalla’s Décor (2014) and Amr Salama’s Made in Egypt (2014). 

The company has already acquired and renovated several cinemas prior to Karim. Among its other projects is Odeon Cinema, and cinemas in other governorates including Tanta, Banha and Damietta.

Zawya had planned to move to Karim in November 2014, when it looked like its six-month tenancy at the Odeon would not be renewed. That move was halted when the Zawya team were invited to stay.