A cinema in a slump

What kind of business considers a taped garbage bag to be a suitable replacement for a shattered plate-glass door - not as a stop-gap for a few days, but for several weeks and counting?

What kind of business considers a taped garbage bag to be a suitable replacement for a shattered plate-glass door – not as a stop-gap for a few days, but for several weeks and counting?

Or was recently unable to make change for customers for several days?

Or operated for weeks last autumn without heat, as temperatures dipped below zero?

Any moviegoer in Whitehorse knows the answer to these questions, for the answer to all above is the Yukon Theatre, run by Calgary-based Landmark Cinemas.

The cinema, to put it lightly, has seen better days. Indeed, it already has an air of abandonment.

White paint peels off its sides. One broken window upstairs is boarded up. Cubes of broken glass still sparkle on the sidewalk.

The taped plastic bag, which serves as little more than a psychological barrier to entry, flaps in the wind.

And the 54-year-old theatre has a dingy, dated interior to match its dilapidated front.

If the theatre’s local manager or Landmark, the operator, have any plans to fix up the facility, they aren’t saying. Repeated phone calls to both were not returned over the past week.

Landmark operates both the Yukon and Qwanlin theatres in Whitehorse. The company, western Canada’s largest independent film company, boasts more than 30 cinemas and has more than 600 employees, according to its website.

The company once touted Whitehorse as the site of a new, multiplex theatre, to be located near Wal-Mart. But in the past few months signs that advertised this project have been quietly pulled down.

Landmark’s thrift extends to the movies they screen in Whitehorse. The selection comprises almost entirely of chick flicks and car-chase movies, picked by a booker in Calgary who chooses blockbusters that have fared well in the United States.

A former cinema manager, who did not want to be identified, attributed the decline in the Yukon Theatre’s condition to “absentee management syndrome.”

As to hopes that Whitehorse will one day have a new theatre, “Don’t hold your breath,” he said. “I don’t think we’re on their radar.”

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.