Valentine’s Day has special significance for the Verona Cinema on Oxford Street. It was on Valentine’s Day, 1996 that Nicole Kidman presided over the official launch of the newly refurbished, four screen Palace Verona complex. And it will be on Valentine’s Day this year that the popular art-house cinema closes its doors and leaves Oxford Street.
In its almost three decades on a small corner in Paddington, the Verona has hosted dozens of international film festivals, single release international and arthouse films, and special screenings and talks. Its original industrial features and intimate size gave the cinema a rustic, esoteric feel. Many a heated post-film discussion has occurred in one of the two bars; many an alliance has been forged.
The doors will close after a final screening on Valentine’s Day. The film is the appropriately quirky yet solemn, Finnish feature, Fallen Leaves, from acclaimed director, Aki Kaurismäki. Guests attending the Verona Valentine’s closing event will enjoy a glass of sparkling wine, a heart-shaped chocolate, and an exclusive VeronaCinema tote bag.
However, where Palace is closing one cinema door, it is opening another. The new Palace Moore Park complex will officially open in the Entertainment Quarter on March 5 with the presentation of the 35th Alliance Française French Film Festival.
With a huge parking station, lots of eateries and entertainment in a traffic-free precinct, the new location in Entertainment Quarter is a boon for lovers of non mainstream cinema, which is what Palace Moore Park is dedicated to showing.
Meanwhile, the old Verona site is set to see a significant upgrade. The submitted design by architect, Scott Carver, allows for the retention of historic industrial features while enhancing the building with contemporary additions.
Two basement levels will be excavated to house cinemas and live entertainment venues. Another two floors will be built on top of the building, making it six levels in total. It’s envisioned as a multi-purpose arts, retail, commercial, office and entertainment space that will inject cultural vibrancy back into Oxford Street.