British Columbia

B.C. movie theatres get ready to reopen

After being closed in November due to COVID-19 health orders, movie theatres can start welcoming guests back on June 15.

Step 2 of provincial reopening plan poised to come into effect on June 15

The Rio Theatre in Vancouver will show Cinema Paradiso and The Big Lebowski on June 15, when movie theatres across B.C. are set to reopen. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Those yearning for popcorn and the luxury of watching the latest blockbuster on the big screen, take heart.

Movie theatres across B.C. are gearing up to reopen Tuesday, June 15 when Step 2 of the B.C. restart plan is set to come into effect.

Theatres were closed last November due to COVID-19 public health orders.

The loosening of restrictions means indoor organized gatherings of 50 people will be allowed with a COVID-19 safety plan in place.

The criteria for moving to Step 2, as set out by the government, include at least 65 per cent of the population above the age of 18 being vaccinated with at least one dose, and declining case counts and hospitalizations — both of which B.C. has met.

Corrine Lea, owner of the independent Rio Theatre in East Vancouver, said patrons are thrilled and tickets for the June 15 reopening are going fast — although she plans to welcome a lot more than 50 people.

In January, the Rio was approved for 125 patrons after it started calling itself a sports bar and showing events like hockey, UFC and even Ru Paul's Drag Race.

Patrons of the Rio Sports Bar watch hockey on the big screen. (submitted by Rio Theatre)

"As soon as we became a sports bar, they increased our capacity because there's different rules for sports bars," she said. "Sports bars are allowed to have seating based on social distancing whereas theatres were given an arbitrary number of 50."

Lea said her situation shows how pandemic rules for B.C. theatres have lacked logic, because the only thing that changed was what they put on the screen. 

"I'd like [the health authority] to explain to me why a sports bar is allowed to have more seats than a movie theatre," she said.

Rio's reopening will feature Cinema Paradiso followed by The Big Lebowski on June 15. 

On Twitter, the Cineplex Odeon chain said its theatre reopenings will feature Lin Manuel Miranda's In The Heights, Peter Rabbit 2 and The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard starring Ryan Reynolds.

Cineplex says it will reopen two dozen of its locations in B.C., assuming the province proceeds with the loosening of restriction. Landmark Cinemas says it also intends to open its doors.

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