The Kamloops Film Society expects to begin showing films mid-month after taking over operations of the Paramount Theatre earlier this spring.
KFS executive director Dusan Magdolen said cleanup, decluttering, permitting and research has been underway and films will begin on Fridays and Saturdays, with the intention of slowly expanding to seven days a week by the fall. The first films, which have yet to be announced, are expected to show on June 14 and June 15.
“We’ll see how things go,” Magdolen said, noting his excitement. “But we’re starting with three movies a night.”
Kamloops Film Society took over the downtown theatre, located at 503 Victoria St., after Landmark Cinemas sold it to property-management company, Kelson Group. Kelson leased the theatre for five years to KFS at below market rates, with the option for the non-profit to purchase the building at the price Kelson paid or renew the lease for an additional five years.
Magdolen recently toured about a dozen independent movie theatres in the province, learning how they operate and to get a sense of some unique things being done to compliment the silver screen.
Revelstoke’s indie theatre is the lone cinema in the community, so it shows blockbusters. The Rio Theatre in Vancouver, meanwhile, focusses on a wide range of programming, including live burlesque, improv comedy and musical acts.
Magdolen said touring theatres taught him which suppliers to use and showed him a point-of-sale system designed specifically for independent theatres.
He said he also saw what other non-profit run theatres were doing — specifically, packing their nights. When Landmark closed the theatre, it was running two films per night at 7 p.m., he said. KFS will show at least three.
“Staff wise, they’re not staying that much longer to run two more films,” Magdolen said.
Other changes to Paramount underway include lighting in theatre one, the larger 500-seat theatre closest to the entryway. Magdolen said the society intends to meet with an inspector from the liquor board in the next few weeks with respect to obtaining a liquor license. Whether or not filmgoers can wash down their popcorn with a pint will depend on whether security is required, he said.
The society has a long list of “wants and desires” but it all depends on costs. Magdolen said there is no money to do renovations.
While there is no news yet on what films will kick off the KFS launch at Paramount, moviegoers can expect programming similar to that in the past.
“We’re going to be starting with something very much ours,” Magdolen said. “We kind of want to put our stamp on the whole thing by starting up that way.”
Asked what success looks like into the future, he said: “In a word, viability.”
Magdolen said he envisions the theatre as a community hub.
Moviegoers seeking independent and foreign films can keep tabs on what’s playing at Paramount via KFS’ new website, https://www.thekfs.ca/, and community bookings are expected to round out the facility.
“We’re just excited for the 14th and 15th,” Magdolen said.