British Columbia

Liquor licence recommended for refurbished Vancouver movie theatre

The Hollywood Theatre on the city's West Side is set to reopen as a mixed use performing arts centre. A city staff report recommends that it be licensed to sell liquor.

Hollywood Theatre in Kitsilano to reopen as mixed use performing arts venue

The Hollywood Theatre on Vancouver's West Side showed its last film in 2013. (Catherine Rolfsen)

Vancouverites may soon be able to buy alcoholic drinks at a refurbished movie theatre in Kitsilano. 

A staff report recommends that the city approve a liquor licence application for the Hollywood Theatre at Broadway and Balaclava Street.

The single-screen art deco theatre, built in 1935, was sold to a developer in 2011 and has been closed since 2013. A group of people rallied to save it and last year the city designated it as a heritage site.

The report says the 594-seat venue is set to reopen as a mixed-use performing arts centre, led by long-time entertainment producers David Hawkes and Sean Mawhinney. 

The application "aligns with the city's commitment to providing more live performance venues," according to the report, which council is set to vote on Wednesday. 

Programming at the venue will include independent film screenings, live music, theatre, comedy and festivals, the report says. Liquor will only be served in conjunction with events. 

An artist's rendering shows a proposed six-storey development next to the Hollywood Theatre, at right. (City of Vancouver)

Corrine Lea, owner and operator of the Rio Theatre in East Vancouver, says it's impossible for single-screen venues like hers to survive without a liquor licence. 

"I honestly don't know how theaters stay open without one," Lea said. 

"The days of just showing one movie for three weeks and then showing another movie for three weeks I think are pretty much over for single-screen theatres."

The Rio, which screens films and hosts live events, fought a long battle to change provincial liquor laws so it could sell alcohol as part of its operations.

The province approved the theatre's initial liquor licence application, but then said it would no longer be able to screen films because it didn't conform to the province's liquor policies at the time. 

Lea says she's glad the fight paved the way for other venues to do the same. 

The staff report doesn't specify when the theatre will reopen. The operators didn't respond to CBC News's request for comment. 


Maryse Zeidler


Maryse Zeidler is a reporter for CBC News in Vancouver, covering news from across British Columbia. You can reach her at


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