The loss of historic movie theaters in cities, routinely seen across the globe under neoliberal capitalism, brings up critical questions concerning the relationship between spaces of moviegoing and urban geographies. In particular, the closing or destruction of local cinema halls often highlights distinct sociocultural designs that national governments aim for in implementing urban renewal programs. This article considers civic action as a powerful means by which local communities respond to such programs by focusing on a grassroots movement that developed in defense of the now-displaced Emek Movie Theater in Istanbul, Turkey. Through an analysis of the discourse and tactics that Emek's defenders mobilized from 2010 through 2013 to oppose the theater's renovation project, this article argues that the movement reconstructed a film exhibition space and its surrounding neighborhood as the nexus of a collective struggle against the AKP (Justice and Development Party) government's authoritarian control. Emek's renewed social function as an outlet for civic-political demands demonstrates how local concerns can resignify cinema spaces in light of urban, national, and global developments.