After 60 years and hundreds of movies, high rents and the challenges of making a one-screen theatre work in a multiplex age have the vintage theatre on its last leg.
Leonard Schein, founder and president of Festival Cinemas, which runs the Ridge Theatre as well as the Park Theatre on Cambie and Fifth Avenue Cinemas multiplex on Burrard Street, says his five-year lease on the 480-seat Ridge ends on December 31st of this year. Schein told the Globe and Mail via email that “unless our landlord reduces our rent greatly, we will not be able to renew.”
Unfortunately it doesn’t sound like the landlord is interested in helping save this piece of Kitsilano history. Bailey reports that the property owner doesn’t believe the Ridge can survive in a current climate dominated by multiplexes.
“I’m not sure it’s because of the rent,” Sondra Green of Sonjan Enterprises Ltd., the holding company that is renting the Ridge to Mr. Schein, said in an interview Thursday.
“I feel, from our conversations, that he just feels that a single theatre doesn’t work any longer. They can’t compete with multiplexes,” she said.
“He doesn’t feel there’s going to be enough business in a single theatre, in that particular location to keep it operating.”
She said previous talks about transforming the theatre into a multiplex have gone awry because of city regulations that would “have us jump through lots of hoops to accomplish it,” imposing costs that would doom the possibility.
She said it would be nice to keep the Ridge space as a theatre under new ownership.
“But if [Mr. Schein] can’t make it happen, I don’t think anybody can,” she said. “He’s got the most experience in theatres and he’s a great tenant.”
Photo credit: slightly-less-random
Last modified: March 24, 2010