Anga IMAX in Nairobi Central Business District. The facility risks closure over scuffle with building lessee

Cinema theatre Anga IMAX, is facing threats of closure by an Italian operator, Gaetano Ruffo leaving film lovers on the edge of their seats as the facility is the last of its kind in the Nairobi Central Business District (CBD)

The Italian owns the Trattoria Restaurant which is in the same building as the cinema.

According to two of his workers who spoke on condition of anonymity, the Italian allegedly treats his staff harshly which could explain why the building has been bleeding tenants over time.

By the end of last year, the building was three quarters empty which the workers blame on the ownership environment.

The Anga IMAX Cinema has for many years has been a magnet for the young affluent population with money to spare. The cinema is unrivaled in the CBD as the cinemas at Odeon and Kenya Cinema have been turned to places of worship.

Many landlords in the country have been giving their tenants offers during these unprecedented times. Ruffo, on the other hand, has asked the cinema to pay 100 percent rent, service fees and utility fees on both the lounge, the closed Arfa bar and the movie theatre.

According to IMAX, the facility was no more than a run-down area before it invested millions in turning it to a state-of-the-art theatre facility.

It is this facility that the Italian now seeks to seize and take over the facility and equipment for free under the pretexts of full rents.

On Wednesday, he attempted to auction the cinema as ‘one block.’ The truth is any buyer would be left trapped with a lot of expensive but useless equipment, because Ruffo does not have the CODES or content that are exclusively licensed in East Africa till 2025 to the current cinema operator by IMAX Corporation in the USA.

Anga IMAX has not been making money in the last four months since COVID-19 became a global pandemic but hopes to attract customers once it complies with health regulations and ensures that its premises facilitate customers to keep social distance while at the facility.

If Ruffo succeds, thousands of Kenyans who are employees at the cinema will lose their jobs and Nairobi will lose the last of its iconic cinemas. IMAX has asked the Italian to give them time until restrictions are lifted but the Italian has been persistent with his demands begging the question whether there could be more than meets the eye.

According to IMAX, Mr Ruffo, in the past, has used police officers and court injunctions to stop the landlady from evicting his restaurant.

Ms Joaninna Maina, the landlady, has complained that Ruffo he is underpaying rent using a lease he signed in 2005 that runs through to 2025.

“Ruffo has expanded Trattoria kitchen illegally over a sewer lane in the building and blocked access with huge water tanks,” said Ms Maina in a statement.

Meanwhile, speculation that the theatre might be shut down on social media has attracted the ire of university students who have vowed to demonstrate over the possible closure.

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