One of the city’s last hold-outs for independent cinema, Cines Verdi has withstood the constant onslaught of commercial theatres.
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One of the city’s longest-standing movie theatres, Verdi has survived decades of change in a constantly evolving city, and industry. Founded in 1926 with just one screen, the original Salón Ateneo has delighted audiences for years, witnessing the evolution of the film industry from up close, and adapting to all the technological developments that have come with it. For the first 60 years of its operation, Verdi was just one of hundreds neighborhood theaters in Barcelona, undergoing its first remodeling only in 1987, when it expanded to accommodate two more screens. A second transformation came in 1992, when it added another two, keeping up with the cineplexes that were highly popular at the time. And in 1995, it acquired a new space with an additional four screens on nearby Carrer Torrijos, completing the movie complex as we know it today.
One of the best things about Cines Verdi is that it easily adapts to the times, without losing its arthouse character. It’s remained a haven for independent cinema, providing a comforting escape from the blockbusters, musicals, and the typical entertainment on offer at commercial theatres. Its screening philosophy has also evolved to suit the viewing preferences and cultural proclivities of the movie-going public, shifting its programming from featuring radical, difficult films, to more eclectic and varied titles.
There are basically three main reasons Verdi has become a mecca for the city’s true cinephiles. Number one, it was the first theatre in the city to open its doors seven days a week. Today, considering the plethora of commercial cineplexes showing films virtually non-stop, this may seem like no big deal, but the fact is that the management opted to take this risky, but visionary, step back in 1987, before any other theatre was hip to the trend. Another distinguishing factor is that Verdi shows movies subtitled, in their original versions. That makes it a favorite among Barcelona’s foreign-born residents, who are less fond of watching films with voice-overs. Last but not least, movie-lovers can catch morning showtimes, thanks to Verdi Kids, a program that regularly features classic family-friendly films.