Just prior to speeches at the official opening of Coquitlam Silvercity VIP Cinemas on April 19, Cineplex vice-president of communications and investor relations jokingly acknowledged her B.C. audience by saying "Oh yeah, go Canucks!"
"This could actually be a whole drawn out conversation," she added, "because I'm actually from Winnipeg originally." (When someone yelled out "Go Jets!", Marshall enthusiastically replied "Exactly!")
Cineplex CEO Ellis Jacob made a more serious note of Canadian pride when he talked about how he has witnessed the growth of domestic companies in our national movie exhibition industry.
"When I got into the business initially, this business was pretty much 90 to 95 percent owned by U.S. large multinationals," he said. "And today, what makes me most proud is the fact that today this business is owned 95 percent by Canadians, all of the different circuits, including Cineplex, Empire, Landmark. So I think that's a major change and shift as far as the entertainment industry goes…."
The invitation-only gala event was attended by the Tri-Cities mayors—Coquitlam mayor Richard Stewart, Port Moody mayor Mike Clay, and Port Coquitlam mayor Greg Moore—as well as numerous city councillors and officials.
"Traditionally, we hold these events before we open a new project to the public," Marshall said. "Tonight, we're doing things a little differently because our VIP Cinemas opened just a few days before Christmas last year, and as these are the first VIP Cinemas to open in B.C., we couldn't let that occasion go by unnoticed so we decided to delay our celebration until now."
Marshall explained that the building has been undergoing numerous changes, including being repainted and replacing all seats in all of the auditoriums (to be completed by May).
Jacob went into further detail about the improvements. "Over the past several months, we've spent almost $3-million dollars renovating the theatre by adding a new lobby, concessions, Out Takes [food service ], Poptopia [gourmet popcorn], box office, and Xscape entertainment centre [offering interactive video games], in addition to the jewel of the crown, our VIP Cinemas."
The adult-only VIP Cinema auditoriums offer high-back leather rocker seats with retractable trays (arranged in pairs to allow couples to cozy up to one another), ample leg room (wide enough to allow patrons to walk past seated patrons without disturbing them). Seats are reservable online.
Reclining loungers (shown below) are available only in the front row.
In-seat food and beverage service can be ordered from a menu which ranges from traditional movie-theatre fare like fountain drinks, popcorn, and candy to more sophisticated offerings such as mocktails, appetizers like edamame and deep-fried pickles, meal items such as wraps and flatbread pizza, and more.
The stylish VIP Lounge (above) includes flatscreen TVs, a fireplace, and a bar (below).
VIP Cinema ticket prices (only for patrons 19 years and older) are $19.50 ($22.50 for 3D shows).
Jacob noted that B.C. Minister of Energy and Mines Rich Coleman announced changes to the B.C. liquor law on April 11 that will allow movie theatres to apply for licences to serve alcohol during screenings.
"We applaud this announcement, and thank the minister, [Coquitlam-Burke Mountain] MLA Doug Horne, and all the hardworking staff at the Liquor Control Board of British Columbia for their support and forward thinking," he said. "We have already started the application process for a liquor licence for our VIP auditoriums in order that we may serve liquor in these theatres."
Jacob added that they plan to open more VIP Cinemas in "select locations" across Canada, and already announced plans for High Street in Abbotsford and Marine Gateway in Vancouver.
Jacob, the Tri-Cities mayors, with SilverCity Coquitlam general manager Kevin Isaac, all participated in the ribbon cutting to officially open the theatre.
You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at twitter.com/cinecraig.