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 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

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

Just Posted

Ron Sivorot, business director at Kennametal’s Langford site, the Greater Victoria facility that made a component being used on NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars. (Jake Romphf, Black Press Media)
NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover using piece made at Kennametal’s Langford site

The Greater Victoria plant’s tooth blank is helping the rover’s drill collect rock cores

A provincially appointed consultant has recommended a change to the funding formula for the VicPD that will save Esquimalt a significant amount of money. (Black Press Media file photo)
Esquimalt to save a bundle on policing costs under new formula

Provincial consultant studied funding model, resource deployment for VicPD

A rockfall closed Finlayson Arm Road and West Shore Parkway on Friday (March 5) afternoon. (Twitter/BC Transportation)
UPDATED: Malahat reopens following rockfall

Section of Trans-Canada Highway was scheduled for intermittent closures today for rock scaling work

A Victoria resident was scammed out of $1,700 after a fraudster impersonated a police officer and convinced the victim to pay a non-existent fine in Bitcoin. (Unsplash)
Fraudster impersonates Victoria police officer, steals $1,700 in Bitcoin

Phone call showed up as VicPD’s non-emergency line

The Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
Tsartlip First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA revealed COVID-19 outbreak

Chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA Adam Olsen apologizes

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Friday, March 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau holds firm on premiers’ health-care funding demands, COVID-19 aid comes first

Premiers argue that the current amount doesn’t keep pace with yearly cost increases of about five per cent

Free Reformed Church is seen as people attend service, in Chilliwack, B.C., on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. Lawyers for the British Columbia government and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms are back in B.C. Supreme Court today, squaring off over the legality of COVID-19 rules that prohibit in-person religious services. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. top doctor has power to restrict access to a place during health hazard: lawyer

Under B.C.’s Public Health Act, Jacqueline Hughes says, Henry can restrict or prevent entry to a place

Most Read