Dolphin Theatre says goodbye to Burnaby

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The Dolphin Theatre, Burnaby's last independent cinema, is bidding adieu to its patrons. 

Burnaby City Council has been holding hearings for a rezoning bylaw for the location (at 4555 Hastings Street) since last May.

A four-storey mixed used development will be built at the North Burnaby site. The project will include commercial space, residential units, and 11 wheelchair-accessible units for people with disabilities (in a partnership with the Vancouver Resource Society).

The twin-screen theatre, which has a seating capacity of 430 people, opened in 1966. Station Square Cinemas in Burnaby closed in September 2012. Consequently, Silvercity Metropolis will become Burnaby's only remaining movie theatre.

Owner Rahim Manji told the Georgia Straight by phone that he did find an audience after he began operating the theatre since 2010. Although his Toonie Tuesdays were well-attended, it still wasn't enough to thrive financially.

"It's just unfortunately the rents in the area are tough to deal with," he said. "The landlords…have bent over backwards for us over the past years that we've been there….We wouldn't have lasted this long without them."

Manji, who also runs the Hollywood 3 Cinemas in Pitt Meadows and Surrey (both of which switched to digital last year), said he feels the Burnaby closure is a "loss for the community" as they tried to make the theatre family-oriented and affordable as possible. General admission was priced at $6.95.

"People do take to what we're doing. People are price-conscious now. If we open theatres like with our Hollywood 3 chain, it seems to work. People like it. You can come and see a movie for a matinee between $3.50 and $3.75. It's unheard of nowadays."

Not all hope is lost, however, as he is still looking for a new location to open another theatre in Burnaby.

"I hope somebody comes forward and helps us find something," he said. "The city's been good in helping us locate something. It's just finding something that's feasible nowadays."

Many patrons are leaving farewell messages on the theatre's Facebook page. The final screenings will be held on Toonie Tuesday (May 27) because, Manji explained, they want as many people there as possible to say goodbye. 

"We wanted to close with family movies—something everybody could watch."

Comments (8) Add New Comment
Ian Boothby
One of the best places to see an inexpensive film.
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Rating: +4
A Dying Breed................
I have been going to Discount movie theatres since I was a teenager. Im in my mid thirties now.

I have seen the Lougheed Cinema, New West , Eagle Ridge and others close down.

Netflix and Big screen TVs and now tablets are muscling in on movie viewership.

People vote with their wallets and its clear how people in metro Vancouver voted.

Businesses on the ground floor of mixed use buildings are often called "For Lease" for extended periods of time.

And people wonder why Metro Vancouver has a reputation as a no fun zone.
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Gregg
Great old-fashion theater. Thanks for the memories.
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Candy
Going to miss the Dolphin. Have been going to movies there since I was a kid. Hopefully they will find a new location & re-open.
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cranky mom
We loved the Dolphin, we always knew we could drive over last minute and see a cheap film with popcorn, free parking and no line up. It was inevitable. Vancouver does not even look like Vancouver anymore.
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So Sad....
Another very unique Vancouver Landmark gone, sigh. I use to go to this place as a kid and teen because it was obviously cheap and was nearby where i lived. I don't live in Burnaby anymore but it's sad to see this place go as so many other unique shops and places have disappeared due to the insane lease prices in this No Fun City anymore.

Sigh, the old Vancouver will always be remembered by me. It's too bad a lot of people who are either too young or came here too late didn't experience the Real Vancouver of the late 90's, early 2000's and how awesome it was here and you didn't need to make over $40 an hour to really enjoy the city unlike now :*(

Another sad day in the City...
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Save Vancouver
Well thank goodness we are getting another cheap crap 4 story condo with pathetic retail below. You can never have too many nailbars and Subways.
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Progress!
I was never close enough for the Dolphin to be convenient, but I remember the Paradise on Granville...three shows for less than one first-run movie! Now it's some skeevy bar where coked up suburbanites can "party." I sure do love the New Vancouver!
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