Ministry of Culture rejects request to remove Monumental cinema in Lisbon

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The Ministry of Culture has not authorized the removal of the Monumental cinema in Lisbon for activities other than film exhibition, according to an order to which Lusa had access.

According to the order, the Minister of Culture still in office, Pedro Adão e Silva, rejected the request by real estate company Merlin Properties for the Monumental cinema to be transformed to host another type of activity, and recommended that “the decision to remove it from the premises be subject to particularly careful consideration”.

In justifying the decision, Pedro Adão e Silva considers that “cinemas are a scarce commodity, that they fulfill an important cultural function in public life and that the possibilities of reactivating the Cinema Monumental have not been exhausted”.

The four screens of the Monumental cinema, which stopped showing in 2019, are located in a building owned by the real estate company Merlin Properties (MP Monumental), which has been renovated and currently houses the BPI bank.

In July 2023, MP Monumental submitted a request to the Ministry of Culture to de-allocate the spaces of the four cinemas to another activity.

The order now signed by the minister states that MP Monumental wanted to adapt the cinemas to house the TUMO project, a creative technology center run by the Topsail Association, on a loan basis until June 2031.

When the Minister of Culture received the request to remove the cinemas in 2023, he told Lusa that before making any decision he wanted to know what state the cinemas were in and whether there were any potential interested parties in operating the equipment, because the city needed to “have cinemas, cinemas with a door to the street, that guarantee a diversity of programming”.

According to the order, initially four exhibition companies expressed an interest in rehabilitating and maintaining the cinemas, but during the negotiations only two proposals remained, from Cinebox and Cinetoscópio.

However, Merlin Properties said it had “definitively exhausted negotiations with potential interested parties”, as it considered that “the risk, the profile of the companies applying to exploit the space and the amount to be invested” did not justify the investment.

The General Inspection of Cultural Activities (IGAC) inspected the cinemas, at the request of the Ministry of Culture, and concluded that “they are very damaged and are not suitable for cinematographic activity without very considerable work”.

The owners also justified the fact that cinema exhibition currently faces “increasingly fierce competition from streaming platforms” and had doubts about “the innovative concept” of one of the proposed companies, Cinetoscópio.

The Ministry of Culture expressed “reservations” about MP Monumental’s arguments and reiterated that “it has not been demonstrated that the possibilities for the space to be used for the purpose for which it is licensed,” which is cinema exhibition, have been exhausted.

The four screens of the Monumental cinema were active until 2019 in a commercial and office building inaugurated in 1993 in the same space where the old and iconic Cine-Teatro Monumental used to be.

Currently, in Lisbon there are only three regular cinemas outside shopping centers: Cinema Ideal, in Chiado, reopened by Midas Filmes in 2014, Cinema Nimas, operated by Paulo Branco, and City Alvalade, operated by Cinema City.

The demolition of cinema venues or their use for activities other than cinema exhibition always depends on authorization from the member of the Government responsible for the area of Culture.

In the summer of 2023, when news broke of the Monumental cinema’s request to be closed down, several associations, film producers and exhibitors publicly signed a joint text calling for screenings to be maintained in those theaters.

The signatories, including the Association of Cinema and Audiovisual Producers, the Portuguese Association of Filmmakers, the DocLisboa, IndieLisboa and Curtas de Vila do Conde festivals, the production companies Midas Filmes, O Som e a Fúria and Alambique, and the exhibitor Cinemas Castello Lopes, pointed out that “the country, and Lisbon in particular, has a glaring lack of cinemas, and especially cinemas that aren’t just

Hervé Hubert
Hervé Hubert
Hervé Hubert is a 55-year-old writer and journalist based in Porto, Portugal. Born in France, he brings a unique blend of French and Portuguese perspectives to his work. Education Hervé studied Journalism and Literature at the University of Lyon in France. After completing his studies, he gained valuable experience working with various French media outlets (Portugal France also). Career He worked for several years as a journalist in France before making the move to Portugal. In Porto, he joined the Portugal Pulse team as a staff writer. Skills Hervé specializes in storytelling, investigative journalism, and cultural commentary. He has a flair for capturing complex issues in a relatable way. Personal Life He currently resides in Porto and enjoys the city's rich culture, from Fado music to Francesinha cuisine. Hervé continues to maintain strong ties to his French heritage, often traveling back to France for family visits and cultural exploration. With his unique background and diverse skill set, Hervé Hubert adds a layered, multicultural lens to every story he covers.

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