Comments from bladerunner

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bladerunner commented about Cineplex Odeon Victoria on Apr 28, 2011 at 2:58 pm

“I never saw a film in the theater’s original glory, having grown up in the 80’s and therefore having no choice but to see films in the triplexed theater (although if memory serves, I’ve been told that the theater was duplexed in the 70’s before the downstairs cinema was divided). The upstairs theater was still a fine place to see film, with Dolby SR and a large common height wide-screen. Sadly, the downstairs cinemas were a victim of the time and were given smaller top-masking screens and mono sound (although there were surround speakers there, which never were used).”

With all due respect, your memory or whomever gave you the info, is way off. As I mention in my Jul. 6, 2009 comment, I worked there when most of the theatre was still in it’s original state. I had seen just about every square inch of the place, including the unusual cement air ventilation system (in the basement) that you could walk in. The place originally opened as a single theatre with a stage and a balcony, which were still there when I was employed there (early eighties). In the 1970’s, the theatre was converted into two (not three) theatres by erecting a soundproof wall down the middle of it, that included the balcony. They also added ceiling to floor burgundy curtains to cover the walls. Everything else as far as the lobby, candy bar, mezzanine, washrooms, box office stayed the same. In the fall of 1980 (when I was there), they converted the two theatres into three. They closed in the balcony, added a screen, took out the wall and made it into theatre 1. They built two new projection booths downstairs and installed two state of the art projectors (with dolby surround sound) in each of the three theatres, including new surround speakers. Each booth had an IATSE projectionist. We (the staff) were also union. They also re-did the lobby, moved the candy bar across the lobby and made it much bigger and built a new candy bar in the mezzanine outside theatre 1. They put in a new marquee upstairs (outside) to accommodate the three theatres show times (I was out there many times changing the info on thursday nights) as well as in the box office area for one sheets, something I also changed many times. I also remember helping put in new seats in theatre 1 just when E.T. came out. That, by far, had to be one of the weirdest and busiest summers ever. Every single show for that movie sold out for the entire summer. I also remember having to announce that and disappointing kids who would start to bawl. I was such a meany!

Back in the eighties, there were a number of movie theatres around Victoria. There was the old Capitol which was torn down for the Capitol 6, The Royal was a movie theatre, there was the Haida theatre across from the Capitol, Coronet further down the street. Counting House Cinemas (two theatres) and the Landmark theatre down by the Empress. Oh, and the Oak Bay theatre too.

As far as grand old theatres, the old Capitol and the Royal were the only two that would fit that bill. The smallest was probably the Counting House Cinemas.

Canadian Odeon owned the Counting House, Haida and Odeon theatres. Famous Players owned the Capitol, Royal, Coronet and Oak Bay. Landmark was the only private theatre and it showed first run shows too. I remember seeing Blade Runner there with a friend and three other people in the entire theatre.

From what understand, all the theatres are gone now except the Odeon, Capitol and the new Silver City, which I’ve never been to.

Just an FYI, I also spent a few years at the Capitol 6. Six years total between the two theatres. Good times and good memories too! It was also a time when ushers showed customers to their seats using flashlights. Unlike today.

bladerunner commented about Cineplex Odeon Victoria on Jul 6, 2009 at 4:41 pm

The Canadian Odeon duplex theatre was converted to a triplex in fall 1980 when the balconies of the two theatres were converted into a theatre. Two new projection booths were built downstairs (at the expense of several seats) and state of the art projection and Dolby sound was installed in all 3 theatres. I was working there at the time.