On their own: the Independent Movie Theatre

On their own: the Independent Movie Theatre

At the height of my movie-going experience, I was going to the movies every weekend. Sometimes, I would have the good fortune to see two movies in a weekend. When I was a film reviewer, I would see at least 3 films a week, some of which never made it past a 1-week run at the theatre.

The movie-going experience has changed immensely over the years. At their very humble beginnings, the Nickelodeon movie theatre was the first type of indoor space dedicated to showing projected motion pictures. These small, independent, simple theaters charged five cents for admission and flourished from about 1905 to 1915. As the movie industry began to flourish, the rush was on to build lavish, enormous, elaborate theatres, also known as movie palaces. The multi- and mega-plexes started to appear in the 1950’s and that is the format we are most familiar with today.



MOVIE FACT YOU PROBABLY DIDN’T KNOW: Canada was the first country in the world to have a two-screen theater. The Elgin Theatre in Ottawa became the first venue to offer two film programs on different screens in 1957.

People often complain about the price of going to the movies.  For a family of four, like mine, a trip to the theatre sets us back around $100, once you factor in tickets and snacks. With movies coming to DVD faster than ever, it seems hard to justify a trip to the multiplex, when $100 will cover a 1-year subscription to Netflix. But we still love going to the movies and we do.  In fact, this weekend, we saw two movies and had snacks for less than $80. For two films.  And snacks.

How is this possible?

The independent movie theatre.  We have come full circle.

When we lived in BC, we frequently headed to the Hollywood 3 theatre in Surrey, BC, a.k.a the cheap theatre.  It was a little run down, and sometimes a seat was broken, but the owner was almost always there and had built a solid reputation as a good samaritan.  Here in Calgary, this family goes to Canyon Meadows Cinemas.  The movies are second run (meaning they’ve run their course at the major cinemas), and because it is independently owned, the owners can decide what movies to show and for how long.  (This Remembrance Day weekend there were 5 family-friendly movies available to choose from).

So if you have a large family, don’t write off the affordability of a night, or afternoon, at the movies.  Find a local, independently owned theatre and sit back and the show.

  • Kim Page Gluckie

    November 14, 2013 at 9:32 am Reply

    We spend many hours at Canyon Meadows Theatre too! Thank goodness for the “cheap theatre” for families. It has to be a really fantastically reviewed movie for us to pay to take all the kids out to first runs.

    We have also really enjoyed the theatre in Invermere and I believe they have closed their doors as of last summer. I grew up going to to a tiny theatre in my tiny hometown. Wish these small town independents could compete.

    Great reminder Dana!

    • ChicFlicks

      November 19, 2013 at 9:41 am Reply

      We have the same mindset – it has to really be worth it to pay full price. We usually save that for the CGI and special effects movies.

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