Victoria Film Festival director Kathy Kay laments how her organization will move forward after tonight's closure of the Empire Capitol 6 Theatre. The festival society has been a tenant in the theatre building since 2001 and regularly used two of the theatre's screens during the festival.

Victoria Film Festival moves forward after Capitol 6 closes its doors

Loss of festival venue, availability of projection equipment just two factors affecting Victoria not-for-profit society

For Kathy Kay, her staff and volunteers with the Victoria Film Festival, Thursday’s shutdown of the Empire Capitol 6 Theatre didn’t come out of the blue.

The not-for-profit society has known since June the theatre would be closing. With the screens dark upstairs at the corner of Blanshard and Yates streets, however, festival supporters will be redoubling efforts to raise money for a portable digital projector that will enable the VFF to screen films large and small.

“Scrambling is probably the word for it,” Kay said Thursday, hours before the last shows were to screen at the multiplex, which opened in 1981 and replaced the old one-screen Capitol Theatre on the site.

“We have to find another venue, but one of our main problems now is the projection system. (The technology has) changed substantially this year.”

With primary distributors now sending out digital format films, Greater Victoria’s largest theatres – owned by Cineplex Odeon and Landmark Cinemas – have switched to the Digital Cinema Projection system.

The Vic Theatre, operated by the Victoria Film Festival for the annual 10-day extravaganza of films in February, as well as the Free-B Film Festival, special screenings and community rentals, does not have the updated technology. Kay said the goal is to install the digital projector there, but retain the flexibility to use the equipment at other venues.

Yet to be determined is the status of the theatre building, in which the festival has had an office since 2001. Not only has Empire – and Famous Players before them – heavily subsidized VFF’s rent, it has provided the two screens for free during the festival.

No imminent sale of the theatre property has been announced, which buys tenants such as the VFF and EasyHome some time to find a new home.

Empire spokesman Andrew Walker said in an email that the company intends to “realize the real estate value of the property at some point in the future, but no decisions have been made to date.”

Kay said she plans on speaking with Cineplex soon about possibly using some of its screens in town come festival time.

“For me I guess the emphasis right now is on the fundraiser to help us get through this and so the festival can thrive,” she said.

Empire Company Ltd., the parent to Empire Theatres and Sobey’s Inc. which owns Thrifty Foods locally, announced in June it was getting out of the theatre business and shifting those resources into its grocery business and real estate holdings.

That included eventually closing the Capitol 6, which was not among a group of theatres packaged for sale to Landmark Cinemas, which did buy the four-screen University Heights theatre from Empire.

Chard Developments owns the parking lot next to the theatre and owner David Chard has said he plans to develop a residential-commercial project spanning from Yates to View Street.

To donate to the Victoria Film Festival, visit http://bit.ly/1gofyYU.

ddescoteau@vicnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATED: Young deckhands backed out of fatal Arctic Fox II trip just before fishboat departed

Inexperienced twin brothers had ‘gut feeling’ and bailed before going to open ocean

Police investigating alleged assault on Oak Bay Avenue

Staff at Oak Bay Home Hardware say one person was taken to hospital

Oak Bay neighbourhoods rocked by blasting activity

Oak Bay seeks new rock blasting bylaw regarding ‘continuous’ noise

Greater Victoria hardly making a dent in greenhouse gas emissions target

One-per-cent drop from 2007 to 2018 a far cry from the 33-per-cent goal for 2020

VIDEO: Seal pup and mom play and ‘kiss’ in Oak Bay Marina

BRNKL seal cam captures harbour seal growing up in busy harbour

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Horvat scores 2 as Vancouver Canucks beat Blues 5-2 in NHL playoff opener

Game 2 in best-of-seven series goes Friday night

Old-growth forest defenders in Campbell River call for B.C. forest minister’s resignation

Protestors outside North Island MLA’s office ask government to stop old-growth logging

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

High-volume littering at Cape Scott draws ire from hiking groups

Popular Vancouver Island hiking spot not closing, but frustration about crowding grows

SFU to drop ‘Clan’ varsity team name

The ‘Clan’ name is shortened from ‘Clansmen,’ and was introduced roughly 55 years ago

New Tory leader must build a strong team in Commons and for the campaign: Scheer

Scheer marked his final day in the House of Commons today as leader of the Opposition

B.C. to hire 500 more COVID-19 contact tracers ahead of fall

Contract tracers add an ‘extra layer’ in the fight against the novel coronavirus

Feds commit $305M in additional funds for Indigenous communities during COVID-19

Money can be used to battle food insecurity and support children and mental health

Most Read