The soon-to-be-closed Astor Theatre might be given a reprieve as current owners of the theatre enter into talks with Palace Cinemas management.
Broadsheet revealed that Palace Cinemas CEO Benjamin Zeccola is in discussions with owner George Florence and building owner Ralph Taranto to take custodianship of the independent cinema.
In Greek hands for a long period of time thanks to the late Stathis Raftopoulos, the last screening for the cinema is scheduled for April 2015, after which bulldozers will tear up the art deco building to make way for apartments.
If the takeover goes ahead and the lease gets renewed, Palace Cinemas has said it will keep the theatre’s staff and continue operating the single screen cinema with new releases and classic films. The Astor Theatre, built in 1936, was at the heart of the cultural life of the Greek community of Melbourne, from the 1960s until the early 1980s. Current owner Mr Florence is actually a nephew of Stathis Raftopoulos and remembers seeing the Astor screen Greek movies and stage Greek concerts and theatre productions.
The Raftopoulos family used to own 12 cinemas around the state, and welcomed legendary Greek artists such as Dimitris Mitropanos, Vicki Mosholiou, Bessy Argiraki and Dimitris Kollatos at the Astor.