The Roxy Theatre will explore taking advantage of new regulations that allows movie theatres to sell alcohol.
“Its something I’m looking into right away,” said owner Carl Rankin. “It didn’t take me by surprise, I’ve known it was coming and I think it has some benefit to the Roxy locally.”
The changes to liquor license regulations were introduced last week by Rich Coleman, the cabinet minister responsible for B.C. liquor and gambling policy. He said the change will get rid of red tape for theatres that could get a licence to serve alcohol for live events, but couldn’t show movies in the same place.
The new licence will allow theatres to serve drinks in the lobby, but patrons won’t be able to take drinks to their movie seat unless the room is adults-only. Coleman said unlike the stands at a hockey game or out in a well-lit lobby, it’s difficult for operators to see if minors are sneaking drinks in a dark theatre.
A single-screen theatre like the Roxy can serve alcohol and patrons can take their drinks to their seat as long as it’s an adult-only event. For events with minors present, alcohol can only be consumed in the lobby. It is up to the licensee to decided if a screening will be open to everyone or will be adults-only.
“People are trying to save the older theatres, where it’s just a single-screen operation, and trying to have two types of business in order to basically survive and make those older traditional heritage-type theatres work,” Coleman said.
Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba already have similar licences for movie theatres. Jeremy Bator, president of the Motion Picture Theatre Association of B.C., praised the move.
“These changes will have a positive impact on so many levels, including increased jobs, a better guest experience and a more level playing field in the increasingly competitive landscape of entertainment in Canada,” Bator said.
Rankin said he would take advantage of the changes to sell alcohol during special events like National Theatre and Metropolitan Opera presentations.
“It would be nice at those events to be able to have a glass of wine and watch the opera,” he said. “I think it has some great possibilities. I’m not jumping in with both feet, I’m just going to look at it very carefully.”
He expects it to take up to a year to apply for the liquor license.
With files from Tom Fletcher/Black Press