A petition to save Rio Theatre has gathered over 19,000 signatures.
This is the latest number available Wednesday (February 7) on the website of the East Vancouver cultural space that has been listed for sale.
Operators of the single-screen theatre, which also serves as a venue for live performances, have sought to buy the property from owner Leonard Schein.
Theatre proprietor Corrine Lea and other potential investors had until Tuesday (February 6) to make an offer. No information was immediately available on whether they have put forward a bid to acquire the property.
“While the City of Vancouver has made provisions that a developer would have to include a ‘movie theatre’ in a new building, this does not ensure the same size, or that it would have live performance space,” according to the petition to save Rio Theatre, which was launched on February 1.
The petition continued: “And during construction, East Van would be left with a cavernous hole in the ground, staff would lose their livelihoods, and thousands of patrons and performers—like you—would lose a beloved cultural space.”
Lea previously said in a statement that she has eight more years remaining on her lease.
However, the petition noted: “While the operators of the business currently have an eight year lease, there would likely be pressure from a new developer to shorten this term.”
The petition also stated: “The bottom line: We do not want the Rio’s future to be in the hands of a developer that doesn’t understand the cultural needs of our community. Although we are not opposed to sustainable development if it becomes necessary in the future, we want to ensure the spirit of The Rio survives. Given the current and immediate crisis of the numerous venues this city has lost—we need to take action.”
U.S. filmmaker and Vancouver Film School alumnus Kevin Smith, whose films include Clerks, Chasing Amy, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, expressed his support for the theatre on social media.
Among other numerous live acts and famous names that have attended the theatre, Vancouver star Seth Rogen told the Georgia Straight in November that James Franco saw a screening of The Room at the Rio Theatre in 2013.
Rogen explained that Franco's viewing of the film prompted Franco to option Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell's book The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made and to take the project to Rogen and Evan Goldberg's Point Grey Pictures to be made into a film.
—with files from Craig Takeuchi