Capital region moviegoers will have six more downtown movie screens to choose from when Capitol 6 Cinemas reopens Nov. 4 as a luxury multiplex, its new owner confirmed Tuesday.
The cinema complex that was closed by Empire Company Ltd. in 2013 has been undergoing renovations since June, including new carpeting, paint, and installation of reclining luxury seats and digital projectors.
Andrew Golin, vice-president of Regency Theatres, the U.S. chain that operates theatres in California, Nevada and Arizona, began renovations at the aging multiplex shortly after leasing the theatre portion of the two-storey, 48,087-square-foot building at the corner of Yates and Blanshard streets. The building was purchased last year by Jawl Properties, which also built the Atrium office and retail building at 800 Yates St.
The Capitol 6 reopening date was confirmed a day after Cineplex Entertainment announced it would replace all of the standard seating in Cineplex Odeon, its downtown multiplex at 780 Yates St., with luxury recliners.
Golin, whose father is the late Harry Golin, the legendary local projectionist, said he learned about the Cineplex expansion two weeks ago while his first-run movie house’s makeover was underway.
“It’s ultimately a good thing, because they are now luxury and we are luxury and people have more options downtown,” he said. “We won’t be playing the same films at the same time.”
After considering a name change for the theatre that Famous Players originally opened as Victoria’s first multiplex in 1981, Golin, who often went to movies there growing up, decided to stick with the original.
“People know it as the Capitol 6, and they are very fond of it. There’s a bit of history there,” the Las Vegas-based exhibitor said.
The theatre is notable for its geometric exterior and winding ramp. Golin had hoped to reopen it by August. He said delays were due in part to his new Canadian company’s decision to also add larger screens. “The bigger the screen, the better.”
He said the new Capitol 6 will also be the first cinema on Vancouver Island to have a Coca-Cola Freestyle self-serve machine. The touch-screen soda fountain features dozens of Coca-Cola drinks, with users selecting mixtures to create custom flavours.
Although the luxury seating was a pricey investment, Golin said he opted to install “top-of-the-line seats” with two motors that operate backrests and footrests separately.
To accommodate the recliners, Capitol 6 will have 564 seats, less than half its original capacity. Capacity at the Odeon is also dropping because of the recliners, dipping to about 1,000 from 1,800.
“This is going to be a completely new moviegoing experience,” Golin said. “We operate these with reserved seating. You go online, pull up the movie you want to see and pick your seats. No waiting in lines.”
He said movie admissions would be competitively priced and close to ticket prices charged at the Odeon.