The property manager of Squamish's only cinema is looking to broaden options as part of a strategy to keep the movie theatre's doors open.
With Garibaldi 5 Cinema struggling to make ends meet, Churchill Property Corp. — the company that manages the Garibaldi Village Shopping Centre — is seeking to re-zone the building to allow for other commercial endeavours in the space.
Currently, the building's use is limited to cinemas only, said Philip Langridge, president of Churchill. He hopes the District of Squamish will expand that to make way for retail shops and cafés.
The future of the cinema is up in the air, Langridge said. The industry is switching to digital films, which is an expensive step up from film reels, Langridge noted. The cost of upgrading a single movie theatre's equipment is approximately $150,000. Garibaldi 5 Cinema has five screens.
One idea to save the facility is to replace some of the theatres in the front of the building with retail space, keeping the ones near the rear operating. This would help cover rent and cut the conversion bill for Metropolitan Theatres Corp., which operates the theatre, Langridge said.
The concept makes sense, said David Corwin, president of U.S.-based Metropolitan. However, there hasn't been much interest in the possible additional commercial space, he said.
“We haven't located an appropriate user for that,” Corwin said.
Corwin said he can't yet say whether the cinema will close its doors. In April, Langridge told The Chief the 25 investors who own the shopping centre were owed more than $1 million. The cinema's rent per month is $36,000, Langridge said. So far, Metropolitan has handed over $30,000 toward rent for the year.
Metropolitan should have a better idea of Garibaldi 5's fate in a couple of months, Corwin said.
“We are in the midst of looking at financing for the digital,” he said.