Liquor licence will prevent Rio Theatre from screening any movies
There's been another twist in the ongoing saga of the Rio Theatre's attempt to obtain a liquor licence.
On Thursday (January 19), Rio Theatre owner Corinne Lea issued a news release, stating that the theatre had been granted a liquor-primary licence for live events.
The theatre had planned on continuing to screen movies and all-ages community events—but without bar service.
However, later that day, the BC Liquor Control and Licensing Branch issued a condition on the licence:
"By regulation, movie theatres are prohibited from applying for a liquor primary license. Under current regulations and policies, you cannot operate as a licensed live theatre at some times and an unlicensed movie theatre at others. Therefore the following term and condition will be placed on your liquor primary license:
• This establishment is not permitted to show movies or any type of cinematic screenings at any time."
Lea told the Straight by phone that she still doesn't understand why she can't screen films when her licence is not in effect. "My licence starts at 6 p.m. and goes from 6 p.m. until midnight on weekdays and 6 p.m. until 1 [a.m.] on the weekends. Even during the day, when I have no liquor licence, I'm not permitted to show a movie. To me, that is way too far reaching and we don't understand why they felt the need to do that."
Her interpretation of why this is happening is because the Rio is being classified as a movie theatre, rather than a multimedia venue. "What we're hoping is that maybe if they just classified us differently, because we're not like every other movie theatre, maybe that would allow them to permit us to have multimedia programming."
The BC Liquor Control and Licensing Branch did not make anyone available for a phone interview request by the Straight.
Lea emphasized though that she will abide by the terms of her licence. "I have agreed to follow the rules and that's what I'm going to do. I'm not being defiant. I'm not happy about it…but I am going to comply with the rules that they've laid out for me."
Consequently, movie screenings after the licence is issued (Lea anticipates it will be on Monday [January 23]) will be cancelled. The last film will be The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo on Sunday (January 22) at 9:30 p.m. Film events such as Midnight Movies, Movies for Mommies, Friends of Dorothy Queer Film Series, and DOXA and Vancouver Queer Film Festival screenings will all be affected.
The Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival had six screenings scheduled at the Rio (in addition to screenings at other venues) to be held during their festival, which runs from February 10 to 18. VIMFF festival director Alan Formanek said by phone that they will wait to see what happens at the Rio next week before taking action.
The Rio will be closed on the nights that films were scheduled into February. However, Lea is hoping to schedule live events in their place.
You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at twitter.com/cinecraig.