Dolphin Theatre says goodbye to Burnaby
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."