Metro Cinema

35 Sharia Talaat Harb,
Cairo

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Cinema Miami and Cairo, Egypt, postcard 1946

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened in early-1940, the Metro Cinema was a project of the International Division of Loew’s Inc. to showcase MGM movies in Cairo. It opened with an Egyptian premier of “Gone With The Wind”. It is located at 35 Soliman Pasha Street (now known as Talaat Harb Street)

Designed by New York architect Thomas Lamb in a stunning Art Deco style, he worked with Gaston Rossi of the local firm of architects Dominioni, Rossi & Salama. The Metro Cinema was the first cinema in Egypt to have air conditioning.

In May 1947, during a screening of “Bad Man Bascombe” starring Wallace Beery, a bomb was placed in the Metro Cinema by members of the outlawed Muslem Brotherhood which exploded killing and injuring several people. The Metro Cinema was closed down for several months while repairs were carried out.

A few years later on Saturday 26th January 1952, during a time of political un-rest, the Metro Cinema was destroyed by fire when it became a victim of acts against the British-run Turf Club that was located diagonally opposite the theatre on Adly Street.

The Metro Cinema was re-built but with a new interior that resembled ‘an African Savanna with samples of African masks and shields with some wild animals in the background’. Business was good for the rest of the 1950’s and the Metro Cinema retained its position as one of Cairo’s premier cinemas into the the 1970’s, when in 1978 Princess Alexandra of Kent came over from England to attend a special screening of “Death on the Nile”.

After that, the Metro Cinema seemed to go into a steep decline and ended up as no more that what could be termed a ‘flea-pit’. But there was hope several years ago, around 1997, that the Metro Cinema could be in line for a total refurbishment. This hasn’t happened and currently it is still open, screening movies in what recent review’s states:-
‘One of the classic old Downtown buildings which has now fallen into disrepair. It is a good enough auditorium, worth visiting for a blast into the past. Nowadays, it shows a broad range of movies from America and Egypt and its weekly cartoon screening make it an ideal place to take the kids’

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on July 20, 2005 at 3:45 pm

Further history and photo’s regarding the Metro Cinema here http://www.egy.com/landmarks/97-05-15.shtml

GaryParks
GaryParks on October 15, 2005 at 3:18 pm

I just returned from three weeks in Egypt and at the end of our trip, after spending most of the day viewing Pharaonic treasures in the Egyptian Museum, I arranged for our guide to take my wife and I for an exterior viewing and photoshoot of the nearby Metro. Our guide, Sam, about 30 years old, was well familiar with the Metro, as he went on dates there when courting his wife.

Though I did not see the interior, I am happy to say that the exterior, though coated in dust like nearly all Cairo buildings from lack of rain, is almost completely in original condition. The only significant change apparent is a modern wedge-shaped marquee in place of the original rectangular canopy. The facade’s ornamental scheme is intact. The vertical sign is intact. Underneath the marquee is a wood-veneered streamlined box office with an art deco brass grille in the window.

The Metro still sits amid what is clearly an old movie theatre district. Some houses still operate, while others are closed.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on October 16, 2005 at 3:04 am

Gary;Thanks for the update on the state of the Metro Cinema and for adding other Cairo Theatres. I hope you had a great time over there?

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on October 16, 2005 at 8:15 am

A photograph and some text on the Metro Cinema here:
http://www.hsje.org/cinema/cinema_metro.htm

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 17, 2007 at 11:24 am

The 1941 Film Daily Year Book claims that the theatre first opened “early in 1940” under the name of Loew’s Metro, designed exclusively for film presentations. Loew’s Metro was reported to be “the largest and finest in the Egyptian metropolis,” with a seating capacity of 1,527 (914 on the orchestra floor, 195 in the loge section, and 418 in the balcony). The auditorium was described as modern, “presenting alternate bands of acoustic and hard plaster, decorated in a general scheme of light chocolate, gold and cream. Exquisite native woods are used in foyers and public rooms.” Gaston Rossi of Cairo served as associate architect to Thomas W. Lamb, according to the FDYB article.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on September 7, 2008 at 11:32 am

A night-time photograph of the Metro Cinema in March 2008:
View link
Viewed from the opposite direction:
View link
A closer view in December 2006:
http://flickr.com/photos/patrickmchugh/334548843/
Original poster frame:
http://flickr.com/photos/louise_al/2073742705/

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 7, 2008 at 11:51 am

The introduction needs to be corrected. The theatre was a project of the International Division of Loew’s, Inc., parent company of MGM, which was the production arm. MGM itself did not own or operate theatres.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on June 16, 2009 at 5:14 pm

A photograph of the fire damaged Metro Cinema in January 1952:
View link

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on July 12, 2009 at 6:00 pm

The Metro Cinema can be seen mid-distance on the left of this May 2009 street scene:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/moddathir/3713804153/

Roloff
Roloff on March 1, 2010 at 5:27 am

Here’s a vintage view of Soliman Pasha street with the Metro on the right (and the Miami on the left), from my postcard collection:
View link

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