- Our Town
Roxy Theatre to launch film society
Roxy Theatre owner Carl Rankin has formed a new independent film society and wants energetic community members to get involved as directors and members to help attract new initiatives, new crowds and new attractions to the heritage Roxy Theatre.
The realtor and businessperson tells me he’s a passionate film fan, but he’s just spread too thin to take on many initiatives needed to keep the Mackenzie Avenue anchor afloat.
Rankin tells me his age a few times (and tells me not to print it as many times) and concedes he needs an injection of youthful, enthusiastic theatre fans who’ll bring new ideas and social networking skills to help the theatre.
Big screen TVs, online access to media and changing socialization patterns are squeezing small town movie theatres. But also, the big studio system takes its toll, demanding a bigger and bigger cut of door receipts, ranging from about 50—70 per cent of the door for big blockbusters.
“You make $5,000 a week on a big movie and you have to give away $3,000. It’s not fun,” Rankin said.
Rankin was inspired by a story in the Globe and Mail that featured the extensive measures community groups on Vancouver Island were taking to preserve their hometown theatres, including raising tens of thousands to keep the doors open on assets that served as de facto community centres. He’s hoping to generate some of that momentum here.
What new ideas does he want to pursue with the newly-minted Revy Film Society? He’s looking to partner with prominent film festivals in Toronto and Vancouver to see about bringing their offerings here.
The Roxy has a state-of-the-art digital system with the “best digital, the best sound” that can be used for live events like playoff hockey, concerts or popular UFC fights — and there is more live programming to consider.
The digital system allows many types of media to be played. Ski films are a popular draw as the snow season gets underway. He sees opportunity to expand into other popular films — mountain biking being an obvious one.
He notes that a ski movie combined with a fundraiser for the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association last fall was very successful and sees lots of room for similar fundraisers that combine popular action lifestyle films with community causes to draw in specialized audiences.
The B.C. government recently changed liquor licensing rules to allow theatres to sell wine and beer. Rankin sees the change as an opportunity, but notes the high up-front costs to get the liquor licence. He views the film society as an opportunity to partner with the theatre to make changes like this happen. It’s about generating “a bunch of good ideas for the film society and a bunch of good ideas for the Roxy,” he said.
Rankin extends the invitation to new members of the community. He said the drivers behind many successful film festivals and theatre organizations are part of a new wave. “They’re very young. They’re very driven by young, well-connected people,” he explained.
While the theatre does use standard online social media tools, he feels they could be doing it much more effectively, but it takes time and enthusiasm. “I’m not the guy to head it up,” he said.
If you’re interested, find the Roxy Theatre online, or stop by the theatre to speak with Carl Rankin.