Rome's Metropolitan cinema to become shopping mall

Historic movie theatre destined for retail and office use but will retain small cinema

Rome's former Metropolitan cinema building at the Piazza del Popolo end of Via del Corso could be turned into a shopping mall, after developers got the initial green light from the city administration. However the plan still needs approval from the city parliament and the Lazio region.

Marta Leonori, Rome's commerce and tourism councillor, said that out of the building's almost 2,200-sqm space, 1,800 sqm would be destined for shops no bigger than 250 sqm while offices would take up 50 sqm and over 300 sqm would be kept for a cinema.

The historic cinema closed its doors in 2010, despite protests and petitions, after almost a century in the movie business. It was one of the few cinemas in the capital to screen films in their original English-language versions and its closure was felt especially by Rome's expat community.

The cinema began in 1911 as the American Film Theatre, changing its name to the Metropolitan in 1948. When its lease came to an end in late 2010 the building's owners Fininvest sold the prime-location property for a reported €30 million to a clothing company affiliated to the Benetton Group.