Leonard Schein is speaking out in support of the Rio Theatre in East Vancouver.
The single-screen venue at Commercial and Broadway has been prohibited from screening films after being granted a provincial licence to serve liquor.
“It is really time for this [provincial] government to step up and correct this ridiculous situation where some bureaucrat is putting this theatre out of business,” Schein said.
Schein founded the Vancouver International Film Festival and is president of Festival Cinemas (Fifth Avenue Cinemas, the Ridge Theatre, and the Park Theatre). Schein also purchased the Rio Theatre property last May, while Corinne Lea remained the business owner of the theatre.
He made the comments at a news conference today (February 6) while sitting beside Lea and NDP MLA Jenny Kwan.
Kwan has proposed changing the provincial regulations that prevent venues like the Rio from both screening films and being licenced to serve alcohol.
“I really agree with Jenny Kwan and I think I call on the solicitor general and the premier to help this theatre,” Schein said.
Schein spoke about the challenge of keeping a single-screen theatre running.
“I’ve been operating movie theatres in Vancouver for 33 years now and the movie theatre business has really changed over that 33 years. We’ve had a number of singles-screen theatres go out of business because of the economics with high property tax and the competition with multiplexes,” he said.
“The Ridge Theatre itself, which I still operate, has now been bought by a developer and they have plans to tear the shopping centre. So the Ridge Theatre probably has another year of life. Developers also bought the property with the Dunbar Theatre so their life is not going to be there much longer.”
Schein also praised Lea’s work running the multi-use Rio Theatre.
“I believe in neighbourhood theatres. I believe they’re really important to our community. I’m very sad every time a neighbourhood theatre has to close down,” he said.