Legendary Moscow movie hall to reopen after extensive renovation

Moscow (AFP) –


Moscow's oldest cinema hall, built over a century ago, will reopen next week after an extensive years-long renovation, the management said Friday.

The Khudozhestvenny, an Art Nouveau one-storey cinema designed by architect Nikolai Blagoveshchensky, is located in the Russian capital's historic Arbat quarter and once drew such luminaries as Leo Tolstoy.

It closed for an extensive renovation in 2014 to restore the bas-reliefs on its facade. The interiors were also completely redone.

The management said it would reopen to the public next Friday.

During the Soviet era it hosted up to a 1,000 spectators. The world premiere of the iconic film "Battleship Potemkin" by Sergei Eisentein was held here in 1926.

The foyer was lit by intricate chandeliers and even had a fountain and an orchestra that played for the public before the film show, according to Russian media reports. It was the only cinema with a home delivery ticket service.

The renovations began when the theatre was owned by the Rambler group of Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut. The Rambler group has now been bought by Sberbank, Russia's largest bank.

"Sberbank has completely restored the legendary cinema," Sberbank said, without saying how much the renovations cost.