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.
Vancity Theatre screens festival-style films from around the world year round, with top-notch sound and projection equipment fully conveying every punch, skid, foreign phrase, and meaningful silence shown on the silver screen. Movies are only open to members of the nonprofit organization—as such, this deal includes a one-year basic membership ($2), which also gets you admission to the organization’s Annual General Meeting. Sample the theatre's filmic fare with a double-bill ticket ($13), good toward two consecutive films on the same day. Upcoming films at the Vancity Theatre include the concert film Leonard Cohen: Live at the Isle of Wight, 1970, the Bernard Herrmann–soundtracked noir On Dangerous Ground, and the light-hearted Martin Scorsese romp Taxi Driver. Wash down the flickering images with a medium popcorn ($3) and a can of pop ($1.50).
The multi-talented siblings of the famous Oklahoma trio Hanson shower the Vogue Theatre in their skillful and exuberantly soulful pop-rock music for one night. Guitarist Isaac, keyboardist Taylor, and drummer Zac burst onto the scene like the missing three of the Jackson 8 with their 1997 smash “MMMBop,” which garnered three Grammy nominations and infiltrated nationwide DNA. Escaping the clichés of adolescent fame, the trio spent the last decade developing a loyal following with its dynamic performances and subsequent albums of rootsy and funky rock and roll. Touting their fifth release Shout it Out, the band treats longtime fans to an energetic marathon of dance hits that alleviate the plague known as standing still.
Foreign, classic, and Canadian films light up the big screen at Pacific Cinémathèque, a 194-seat theatre recognized by the Vancouver Sun as the best art-house and foreign-film venue in 2009. Established as a film society almost four decades ago, the movie palace has since flourished into a polestar for under-the-radar films, showcasing lesser-known works and cinematic icons alike during single and double billings six nights a week. In an effort to enhance Vancouver's cinematic culture without transplanting the Hollywood sign to the top of One Wall Centre, the theatre is also home to several educational opportunities including a film reference library and the West Coast Film Archive, which preserves the legacy of independent filmmaking on Canada's west coast.