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Cinema co-op welcomes downtown theatre's reopening

The project manager for a local film co-op trying to open up a single-screen movie theatre in the downtown core said she's not concerned about Imagine Cinemas' plans to open in the former Rainbow Cinemas location.
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Sudbury Indie Cinema board members Derek Young, left, and Gerry Labelle, right, and project manager Beth Mairs revealed details on Sept. 21 on the status of the cinema. Photo by Heidi Ulrichsen.

The project manager for a local film co-op trying to open up a single-screen movie theatre in the downtown core said she's not concerned about Imagine Cinemas' plans to open in the former Rainbow Cinemas location.

In fact, Beth Mairs, a local filmmaker who's been trying to get the Sudbury Downtown Indie Cinema Project off the ground for two years, said she hopes to co-operate with the company to put on downtown film festivals.

“If we can work in partnership with Imagine Cinemas, then we could have a really dynamic festival downtown, and very walkable,” she said. “Our venue is only a half a kilometre away from theirs.”

Gina Facca, general manager of Imagine Cinemas, told NorthernLife.ca this week she couldn't give a specific opening date right now, although she hopes it will be sometime in the late winter or early spring of next year.

The theatre has been vacant since August 2013, when Rainbow Cinemas, located in the Rainbow Centre mall, closed.

The city could actually support 20 big screens, according to a feasibility study done by a co-op this summer, said Mairs.

However, currently there's only 12 big screens in the city, at Cineplex's SilverCity Sudbury, the only cinema in town right now.

If Imagine Cinemas re-opens the Rainbow Centre mall theatre, that would bring the number to 18, and Sudbury Indie Cinema's would boost it to 19.

“Greater Sudbury is seriously under-screened,” Mairs said.

Imagine Cinemas has applied to screen first-run Hollywood films.

Sudbury Indie Cinema was originally considering screening second-run Hollywood blockbusters, but that was when it was still trying to take over the former Rainbow Cinemas location.

“It made a lot of sense being in that same space trying to maintain that core clientele Rainbow Cinemas had developed by running second-run discount films,” Mairs said.

But the co-op was unable to come to an agreement with the downtown mall, and is now hoping to open at the former St. Louis de Gonzague school gym. Mairs said earlier this fall she was hoping to open in late winter.

It has dropped its plans to screen second-run films.

It's instead going to screen independent, festival-quality films at its venue.

Mairs said she thinks there's enough independent films out there to keep Sudbury Indie Cinema busy. It's the difference between a fast-food restaurant chain and an independent restaurant carrying locally sourced food, she said.

“That's the kind of movie house we're going to create,” Mairs said. “We're not a large chain, we're a one-off.”

Sudbury Indie Cinema is trying to secure funding so it can move forward with its project. Earlier this week, the co-op got word it has been approved for $175,000 in funding from the Trillium Foundation.

It's also received $55,000 from the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation. But the co-op is still waiting on a funding request from FedNor.

Funding announcements from the federal funding agency were delayed due to the election and change of government.

“That puts us and a few others that had made it up to the minister's office pretty high priority to announce,” Mairs said.




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