News

Last show at Dolphin Theatre on May 27

The film reels at Rahim Manji
The film reels at Rahim Manji's Dolphin Theatre in North Burnaby will stop turning next week when it closes to make way for a new development. The last independent theatre in the city is also one of the few in Metro Vancouver that still uses film.
— image credit: Mario Bartel/NewsLeader

The last show at North Burnaby's Dolphin Theatre will be on Tuesday, May 27, to make way for redevelopment of the property.

Rahim Manji, owner and manager of the Dolphin, shared the news to moviegoers on Tuesday, typically their busiest night due to its Toonie Tuesday prices.

The loss of Burnaby's last independent movie theatre will join similar closures in recent years of the Hollywood, Denman and Ridge theatres in Vancouver, and the Station Square Cinemas at Metrotown.

Manji said in an interview that he was unable to find another affordable location in Burnaby but is still on the lookout.

"It's just so expensive there in Burnaby. Hopefully we can find something."

Manji, who also owns the Hollywood 3 theatres in Surrey and Pitt Meadows, is disappointed he couldn't make a go of it in Burnaby.

Unlike his other two theatres, the Dolphin had not been converted to digital projection, an expensive investment, and it showed first-run films instead of second-run, he said. Most of the cost of the operation went towards the higher distributor fees charged for first-run shows.

He has owned the theatre business since 2010 and credits the property owners with giving him a break on rent for making it economically feasible.

Manji still believes the theatre could have stayed open if more people had supported it by attending shows.

"I think so because the owners were very community oriented," he said. "If the business was a lot better, obviously, we could have afforded higher rents and I think it might have changed things around."

And he's not giving up the theatre begrudgingly.

"It's not fair to [the property owners] to keep going for such a long time with nothing for it. I know they weren't making anything off of us. That's not fair. They're business people as well," Manji said.

"The landlords were great and I supported them in their decision because I knew they did everything they could."

The Dolphin was built in 1966 and was originally a single-screen theatre before being twinned.

Soon the cinema at 4555 Hastings St. will be demolished and redeveloped into a four-storey, mixed-use project. It will have retail on the ground floor, 11 wheelchair-accessible rental units for people with disabilities and 20 units of market housing.

Manji said his six staff have been given the option to work at his other two locations, and one or two are considering it. He's trying to help in their search for new jobs.

He'll also be sad to say goodbye to their regular customers.

"Our customers were very, very loyal to us. We saw the same people coming to us week after week after week. It was amazing to see the same faces over and over again."

For more information on what's planned for the Dolphin's last show, visit www.dolphintheatre.ca or their Facebook page at http://on.fb.me/1qVrTJo/.

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

twitter.com/WandaChow

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