Why don’t we build a community owned non profit cinema?

Why don't we build a community-owned non-profit cinema? Once upon a time Whitehorse was going to have a brand new cinema built in time to see Return of the King. Safe to say, we missed that deadline. No offense to Landmark Cinemas, you have served us w

Once upon a time Whitehorse was going to have a brand new cinema built in time to see Return of the King. Safe to say, we missed that deadline.

No offense to Landmark Cinemas, you have served us well, but Whitehorse desperately needs a new cinema.

Originally, Landmark Cinemas were going to build a new six-plex theater in Whitehorse about 10 years ago but this never flourished. No formal reason was ever given as to why this plan was scrapped.

So why has a new cinema not yet been built yet in Whitehorse? The interest for a new theater is clearly evident, and the long and dark winters here would without doubt influence many of us to frequent a new theater quite often during this time of year. What is the hold up then? Is it our small population base? The high construction costs for a theater?

My recommendation to fix this problem: we should build a community-owned non-profit cinema.

I do not mean a little artsy cinema that shows anything but Hollywood. I am dreaming of a multiplex cinema with stadium seating that shows current Hollywood films as well as special screenings of critically-acclaimed documentaries and foreign films. I want a cinema that people are proud of.

Does this sound like a far off dream? This has already been accomplished in much smaller towns across Canada.

Look at Countryfest Community Cinema in Dauphin, Man. In a small rural town of only 8,300 residents, the community managed to come together to fundraise and build a four-plex cinema with stadium seating and state of the art theater technology.

The cinema is still community owned and operated, shows the newest and biggest Hollywood releases, and is multi-use and can host other special events. Any profits the cinema does generate are invested back into the community. It is essentially a non-profit Cineplex Odeon.

But why should a cinema be non-profit in the first place? Shouldn’t a theater be a private business? I argue that operating a movie theater as a business in small northern communities simply does not work. Look at the current state of Landmark Cinemas as proof of this; its facilities are in desperate need of renovations. Cinemas do not make most of their profits through ticket sales anyways; most of their money is made through their concession stand.

What could we use the money made from this movie theater for anyway? To start, the profits generated from this cinema could be used to improve pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure around the area so people could more easily walk and bike to the theater from across town.

We already have a thriving film culture in the Yukon with multiple filmmakers along with the Yukon Film Society and several film festivals; we could use these profits to help our filmmakers and film festivals to expand and grow even more.

No matter who you are, we all like going to the movies. I do realize it is a big dream to build a cinema like this in Whitehorse, but this has already been accomplished in much smaller towns than Whitehorse. Why can’t we at least do the same thing here?

Ben Derochie


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