East Vancouver's Rio Theatre finally seals the deal—and celebrates with free Big Lebowski screenings

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      It's over—and that's a good thing.

      After seven months and some deadline extensions, the Rio Theatre has successfully accomplished its mission to raise the necessary funds to purchase its 6,350-square-foot property at East Broadway and Commercial Drive. (The property owners had put the site up for sale in January.)

      In its bid to raise $7.9 million to purchase the East Vancouver single-screen theatre property, the Rio operators created a petition with over 22,000 signatures, raised over $500,000 from crowdfunding, Vancity Credit Union approved a $4.7 million mortgage, the City of Vancouver provided a $375,000 grant, and over 190 community members became investors, including the Vancouver International Film Festival, Vancouver Film School, Persephone Brewing, Bandidas Taqueria, and Grandview Lanes.

      They also created the non-profit Vancouver Art House Society, which is dedicated to saving arts and culture spaces in the city. All donated funds went to the society, which became the largest shareholder in the Rio Theatre property.

      The fundraising campaign also attracted some celebrity supporters and donors, including Ryan Reynolds, Seth Rogen, and Kevin Smith.

      To thank the community, the theatre will hold two free screenings of Joel and Ethan Coen's 1998 crime comedy The Big Lebowski, starring Jeff Bridges and John Goodman, on September 17. Reserve tickets have already sold out but a rush line will be available, with about 50 seats available at the door.

      Other upcoming events at the theatre (built in 1938) include a 25th anniversary screening of Degrassi High: School's Out! with cast members tonight (September 7), Dan Savage's Hump! Film Festival 2018, and the 2018 Vancouver International Film Festival (for which the Rio Theatre will be one of several screening venues).

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