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.
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.
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.
Now that it has been fully restored, the Rio Theatre immediately recalls the splendour of its grand opening in 1938. Hiding behind the old-fashioned aesthetics, however, are a digital HD projector and surround-sound speakers that immerse filmgoers in an eclectic array of first-run blockbusters and cinema classics. Showing films again as of April 2012, the theatre’s movie selection ranges from sci-fi and horror to wholesome family films, though the program coalesces around a love for pop culture that the owners share with their most ardent fans.
Aside from the daily show times, cult classics—frequently in their original 35 mm form—screen at midnight on Fridays. Guests from all walks of life come out to these packed showings, where they can snack on popcorn made with real butter or win prizes for dressing in costume as their favourite character or key grip. The 420-seat theatre also hosts concerts and events throughout the year, including past performances by Janeane Garofalo and local musicians Bend Sinister.
Pacific Cinémathèque has been bringing essential cinema to Vancouver for nearly four decades. With an emphasis on international films, art-house flicks, Canadian classics, and under-the-radar movies, Pacific Cinémathèque offers alluring alternatives to the kiss-kiss, bang-bang blitz of Hollywood, earning it honours from the Vancouver Sun as 2009’s best art house/foreign film theatre. Get a double-bill ticket ($11.50 for adults) and activate your celluloid goggles for consumption of two game-changing movie experiences in one night. Upcoming features include a one-two punch from decorated documentary filmmakers Albert and David Maysles, with Grey Gardens and Gimme Shelter chronicling ruinous recluses and rock-‘n’-roll rawness, respectively, while the Italian filmmaker Francesco Rosi’s works get top billing in a special retrospective running May 27–June 10. Other upcoming Pacific Cinémathèque films available on double bills include works by Japanese filmmaking legend Akira Kurosawa and the little-seen American cult comedy Casablanca. Wash down your viewing experience with a small popcorn ($3) and a small pop ($2.50) from the concession stand, both included in your Groupon.
Dunbar Theatre keeps things simple: fresh popcorn, comfortable seats, a friendly staff, and one big screen. But in simplicity is something fresh. Those newly installed seats have enough room that audiences can stretch their legs, armrests raise for cuddling, and a balcony lets viewers change up their sightlines. Old-fashioned styles aside, the movie house stays up-to-date with recently upgraded projection technology and a sound system with the clarity of 10,000 Morgan Freemans. Located near UBC, the theatre is within walking distance of numerous diners and cafes, making it a date-night no-brainer.