It’s sad when a local landmark like the Ridge Theatre closes. Even for those who have been watching their movies at a Ciniplex theatre instead. The 63 year old cinema is shutting down on February 3, and it intends to go out with a bang. In a gesture of appreciation to the Ridge’s fans and followers, Festival Cinemas is showing a series of films for the final ten days of its operations. Starting January 25 there will be an amazing selection of movies offered for only $5. For those concerned about the iconic Ridge sign, the Cressey real estate developers plan to keep the sign on the new development at 16th and Arbutus.
Find a brief history of the Ridge as well as the film festival details below.
A brief history of the Ridge Theatre:
Since opening its doors on April 13, 1950 the Ridge Theatre has been delighting audiences with unique films ranging from Hollywood blockbusters to foreign film classics, including a two year run of The Sound of Music as well as one year runs for One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Annie Hall.
On March 31, 1978 Leonard Schein (President of Festival Cinemas) took over the Ridge Theatre. Under his vision, the Ridge became the primary destination for film buffs across the lower mainland showcasing many first run and classic films that would otherwise may not have been shown to local audiences. Notable films from this time period included Casablanca, the restored Hitchcock Classics, weekly midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and films by great directors such as: Francois Truffaut, Woody Allen, Satyajit Ray, Charlie Chaplin, Alain Resnais, David Lean, Luis Bunel, Federico Fellini, John Ford, Werner Herzog, Orson Wells, Akira Kurosawa and Bernardo Bertolucci to name just a few.
The Ridge is also the original home of The Vancouver International Film Festival which Schein founded in 1982. It brought little known films and filmmakers from around the world to Vancouver and has continued to prosper under the guidance of people who can trace their cinema roots back to the Ridge Theatre.
In 1986 Schein moved to Toronto to head the Toronto International Film Festival and the Ridge continued under new management. Unfortunately, the increasing use of video, DVDs, cable, and internet downloading made the business model of repertory theatres obsolete. These factors combined with local commercial property taxes that are particularly injurious to movie theatres all led to difficult times for the Ridge.
“It was mostly out of a sense of nostalgia and history that we went back to operating the Ridge in 2005 knowing that it would be losing money,” said Schein. “We hoped that operating it in conjunction with the Fifth Avenue Cinemas and Park Theatre would help preserve its operation, but we were wrong, and now with the impending demolition of the site by the property owner, many people think it has already closed. This announcement is personally very bittersweet for me to make. I am sad that the Ridge is going, but happy for the many great memories it has brought to me and our fantastic and loyal audiences throughout the years. I am also glad that Ridge’s landmark signage will be preserved in the new structure by Cressey Development Group.”
A fond farewell:
Starting January 25 there will be an amazing selection of movies offered for only $5. These include Argo, Pina, The Secret in Their Eyes, Searching for Sugar Man, The Intouchables, A Separation, Midnight in Paris, Skyfall, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Queen of Versailles and many others.
There will be a benefit showing for the educational trust fund for the children of Ian Caddell (long time film writer for the Georgia Straight) of My American Cousin with director, Sandy Wilson and star Margaret Langrick in attendance for a Q & A, a repeat of Sing a Long Sound of Music with “fun packs” (dust off your lederhosen one last time) and, of course, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Please consult the Festival Cinemas website (www.festivalcinemas.ca) for all the screening information, and help bid a fond farewell to a grand old dame.