The Rio Theatre’s curtains may have been drawn but it could be at the expense of other Vancouver movie theatres.
In an ongoing bid by the Rio Theatre to be able to serve alcohol at live-events and still screen films, Minister of Energy and Mines Rich Coleman announced Thursday that theatres and other live venues can now show movies and keep their liquor licences.
But for movie theatres that don’t operate as private clubs such as the West End’s Denman Cinemas a special-event liquor licence will not be issued when the primary purpose of the event is the screening of films or broadcasts, MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert said.
For instance, if the theatre wants to throw a fundraiser for a local charity, alcohol will not be permitted, he said.
“It’s partially one step forward for the Rio but a step back for other theatres,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that they got dragged into this issue.”
Meanwhile, Rio Theatre manager Corinne Lea said she is still not happy with the recent decision.
More than two weeks after the Rio cancelled its film screenings, the theatre can now screen only matinees. If it wants to show films at night, a set-in-stone schedule needs to be approved.
While showing movies during the day is certainly a step forward, the matinee time slot is not the most lucrative. Agreeing to a set schedule is also not an option because the entertainment industry is dictated by Hollywood story buyers not the Rio’s schedule, she said.
“It sounds like they didn’t consult anyone in the entertainment industry,” she said. “It’s kind of like your dad buying a dress when you’re 16 and it’s the wrong style”
The theatre lost nearly $40,000 and five employees since the banning of movie screenings.
“We have a lot of pride and there is no way we would accept losing the Rio Theatre,” she said. “I’m hoping this is an opportunity to give us the fix that works instead of a Band-Aid that’s not going to stop the financial bleeding.”
Mr. Coleman said they are working on the Rio’s latest concerns.
“I think we can meet the concerns of this particular provider but it won’t be based on just their concerns; it will be based on having a conversation with all the theatres in the city,” he said.