If you want to go to the movies this weekend, you'd better plan on heading out of town.
Squamish's only cinema is closing its doors tomorrow (Thursday, Aug. 9) after eight years in operation. Garibaldi 5 Cinema, run by the U.S.-based Metropolitan Theatres Corp., has been in the red for several years, said Philip Langridge, president of Churchill Property Corp., the company that manages the Garibaldi Village Shopping Centre.
“We haven't been getting any rent now for four years,” he said, noting that on Tuesday, (Aug. 7), his son sent him a picture of the “closing” sign on the theatre's board.
In April, Langridge told The Chief the 25 investors who own the shopping centre were owed more than $1 million. Last week, Langridge said the monthly rent for the theatre was around $36,000 a month, but this week he said the rent, property tax and common-area costs are roughly $26,000 a month.
For the past few years, the theatre's investors were basically supporting the theatre for the people of Squamish, he said.
“I think the operators have decided they can't make it work,” Langridge said.
The cinema also faced the bill for entering the digital era. Last week, Metropolitan president David Corwin told The Chief that the company was examining the cost of switching the five theatres from film to the new format. This week, Langridge said the upgrade bill for a single theatre is roughly $100,000.
In March, Churchill Property Corp. asked that the District of Squamish waive approximately $44,000 of property tax to help keep the cinema in business for the benefit of the community. Council voted against the request.
“I guess, unfortunately, Squamish is going to lose its cinema,” Langridge said.
Churchill Property Corp. is seeking to rezone the building to allow for other commercial endeavours in the space. The complex's use is currently limited to cinemas only. Langridge hopes the district will expand that to make way for retail shops and cafés. Corwin did not return The Chief's phone calls before press deadline.
The 12,000-square-foot facility opened on Oct. 8, 2004, as Garibaldi 5 Stadium Cinema, then owned by Resort Cinemas of Whistler. It features five auditoriums with a total seating capacity of 600 and screens 28 feet wide and 15 feet high.