Just a few weeks after they first make a splash on the big screen, Hollywood flicks draw gasps, laughter, and sighs from the audiences at Cottonwood 4 Cinemas. The slight delay in the theatre’s roster of films enables movie-goers to catch recent blockbusters at a less expensive cost than the traditional ticket price. In addition to family-friendly movies, comedies, and thrillers, Cottonwood hosts a variety of special events. Screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show invite audiences to participate in the cult classic by dressing up, reciting lines, and bringing props, and a film series presented by the Chilliwack Arts Council treats cinephiles to a lineup of international films. The theatre also welcomes watchers for party packages, including a red-carpet bash where kids invade the concessions area to make popcorn and cotton candy, then force their parents to eat broccoli.
Some things about the Clova Cinema have changed over the years; as it passed from owner to owner, it has been a video-rental shop, a youth centre, and a stage for live performances. But despite its numerous incarnations, the rich red facades, the art-deco decorations, and the bright marquee have remained proudly in place. These features hearken all the way back to the theatre's 1947 opening, when Humphrey Bogart dominated the screen and popcorn was popped in gleaming machines instead of Buick-sized microwaves. Now, the cinema's single screen flickers to life with weekly evening and weekend matinee showings of current releases. The theatre is rife with family touches, from the real butter on the popcorn to Cupcake the dog, who is on hand at matinees to entertain guests before the show and sniff out unsilenced cell phones.
For more than 45 years, Simon Fraser University has nurtured the talents of student-athletes who have gone on to achieve great things in either aspect of that role, producing Rhodes Scholars and Olympians alike. Since winning its first championship in 1972—swimming and diving in men's NAIA—the Clan has claimed victory in more than 50 National NAIA or CIS championships in such sports as skiing, women's basketball, and women's wrestling. Each year, rather than honouring its athletes as in other schools' age-old traditions—sending them off on an ice floe to fight the Soviets—SFU bestows an outstanding male and female each with a highland sgian dubh, a traditional Gaelic weapon that symbolizes courage, respect, and loyalty.
In 2006, a small group of women met over a plate of nachos to discuss a dream that they shared: launching Vancouver's first all-women roller derby league. Seven years later, the Terminal City Rollergirls has blossomed into a flat-track institution, with more than 60 active participants, four full teams, and its own training program that teaches aspiring competitors the tricks of the trade. The league's teams— the Riot Girls, the Bad Reputations, the Faster Pussycats, and Public Frenemy—square off in bouts overseen by Terminal City's in-house referees, who call major fouls by putting players in the penalty box and recognize good play by throwing smiley-faced stickers into the crowd.
It sounds just like a movie: a former Disney employee and a former mayor team up to run their own theater. That's exactly what Jeff Brein and Sam Granato did in 1988 with Bainbridge Cinemas, where they still spend Friday and Saturday nights tearing tickets and scooping popcorn. Besides Bainbridge Cinemas, their theater collection—Far Away Entertainment —oversees seven other local theaters, including the historic single-screen Lynwood Theatre. Opened in 1936, Bainbridge Island's first talking picture house now specializes in independent features and foreign films in which actors rearrange the English alphabet to make strange new sounds.
Over at the two-screen Admiral Theater, projectionists give newer Hollywood releases a second run, plus host screenings every year for the Seattle International Film Festival. Far Away's five remaining theaters, each with three to five screens, show digital versions of Hollywood's freshest celluloid. Lean back in the Anacortes' reclining seats, or scarf down an all-beef frank at Oak Harbor while taking in a flick or live screening of the Metropolitan Opera.