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The closing of the Capitol has still left a big hole in my heart, and it saddens me every time I walk by it. Ever since it closed it has been really tough to get particular movies to show here now, and many smaller releases now bypass our city because of it.
As for West Van area, they could do with a 10-12 screen Cineplex right in the mall with a few VIP theaters no problem. Easy to get to by transit as well. That would likely close both North Van locations, however.
It’s also really interesting to think that the two locations in North Vancouver are both total 80’s design cinemas (a Drabinsky era Cineplex Odeon AND a late 80’s Famous Players “Bijou”, “Rialto”, “Avalon”), largely unchanged since they opened. Very few of either type of cinema even exist anymore.
Meanwhile Capitol 6 is just sitting there, with the few tenants on the lower floor (the film fest office and the rent-to-own store) still open as of now.
From what I know everything except the digital projectors and some of the concession equipment is still in the building. Even the posters from the last few movies that played there are still sitting in the lower lobby!
I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Cineplex go into the mall area in West Van at some point. I know a theater used to be there but they could do really well with a new build.
That said the Cineplex Odeon Park & Tilford IS all digital, so who knows for the time being.
“The goal of the campaign is to raise $50,000 to acquire a digital projector to keep the Gem Theatre open.”
Awww, a theater still thinks it is 2009.
This must mean there’s an Inferior Theatre located nearby in this town…
““no longer show 3 projector movies anymore as they used to when they opened”
They didn’t show “3 projector movies” when they opened in 1963. Good lord I want to smack whoever at the theater said that to you.
Added nearly 40 photos to the gallery, including scans of the 1981 grand opening and construction, along with an old photo of the original Capitol.
Consider the Capitol 6 gallery complete! Enjoy.
The Dolphin Cinema will be closing next week. Article:
AH that makes sense then. Some theories: they were probably allowed to keep it as long as they either sold it to someone else, or would have to sell it (which is what happened).
That or the location just wasn’t making the grosses they wanted it to, and will instead put more money into the Winston Churchill site (more than certain now they will convert 4-5 theaters into VIP and 2-3 screens AVX).
What surprises me about all of this is didn’t that 10-plex have an Ultra AVX auditorium in there? That’s a huge cost.
You had me curious as well. Isn’t this really close to the former AMC 24 plex that they took over? If so perhaps that’s the reason this one might be closing, or closed.
Thanks Herman and Tim for your comments. Gallery is now complete! Please comment, leave questions etc.
This was a LOT of work to put each image up one at a time, and there were also a few areas I didn’t cover like the roof, bathrooms etc. I also removed a few of my original set of photos so they wouldn’t duplicate. (Please also note Hailee’s excellent set of photos for when she used to manage there.) One area I WISH I covered was the maze-like, concrete exits from each auditorium. You would exit into a cold, quiet, sterile set of staircases leading you to a gigantic concrete street level exit on both Yates and View street sides. People usually never exited this way and rather chose to head back down the circular ramp to the exit doors, which always gave you a nice view of downtown as you left.
And although I agree with Herman on the uniqueness, in many ways this place shares a lot of similarities with Capitol 6 Vancouver. Same types of seats, carpeting and screen sizes. Cinema #2 here had about the same screen size as the behemoth Cinema One in Vancouver, although with half the seats (1,031 in Vancouver vs. 534 in Victoria). Many of the later Famous Players builds DID go to a standard just like Cineplex Odeon eventually did as well, just in a different way.
But anyway. Going through these photos reminded me of the power of this place; my childhood cinema which I still miss to this day. This was a place where I felt comfortable, safe and very welcomed to watch a movie in. I fell in love with movies here as well as the Odeon (which is still going strong as I have said many times before).
Yes, the theater never upgraded to stadium seating but it WAS on the cutting edge of technology. It was the first Victoria theater to have all Dolby Stereo later in the 80s (many of the screens were mono to start). It ran 70mm in the late 80s and early 90s. The first DTS installation was here. In fact, digital sound got a LOT of play here early on; screen #2 was Dolby when it opened in 1981, upgraded to SR in the late decade when 70mm played there, DTS was installed in the summer of 1994, then Dolby Digital a year later, then SDDS from about 1996 to early 1998. It was in this period of time that screen #2 had sound quality among the very finest out of any cinema I have ever been to in my life, even to this day out of attending hundreds of cinemas all over North America. The theater switched from SDDS back to Dolby Digital in early 1998 or so, mid-way through the six month engagement of TITANIC. Over the years, sadly, the sound quality didn’t live up to its heyday in the 90s, and over the years drivers blew and the volume had to go down, but even towards closing still sounded pretty good in comparison to new theaters.
Just to add again to the whole sight-line thing on Cinema #2; the theater had a row of only two seats on the left hand side of the auditorium on the aisle (again, I should have taken a photo of these heavenly seats but never did). As the room sat about 530+ people you would never, ever have anyone try to sit next to you, and when I did take a date to a movie here they were the perfect date seats. You could enter or exit from either side too.
I would ALWAYS watch a movie in these seats in #2. Perfect view of the huge screen, easy to duck in and out for a bathroom break or to see a manager or staff, and even if someone sat in front of you your view would not be compromised. It also sat right next to a power outlet so if I needed to charge my cell phone for whatever reason, I’d just plug it in, turn it to silent and it would sit right next to me for the duration of the movie. Everybody wins.
Thinking more about what Tim said months ago, I’d love for a new chain or company to come in and salvage it. Yes, the numbers were bad but with a little TLC it could be prosperous again. Just a simple reposition of the seats would take care of the sight line issue. The building just sits there and I know a lot of the equipment is still in there. Maybe one day…
As of right now just about to post the remaining lobby and exterior photos.
Cinemas 1, 3, 4 & 5 had very good sightlines due to the placement of the screen. I never had an instance, even as a kid, of someone blocking my view sitting infront of me. The same couldn’t be said about huge #2; it had pretty poor sightlines but I always liked sitting on the aisle seats which fixed that.
Now uploading a massive set of photos of the ‘ol Capitol 6 to this page. These photos will include exterior, lower lobby, upper lobby, all six screens and projection. It is a bit of a chore since CT will only let you upload one photo at a time, but it will look great when done.
The first level has the box office. The second level has Cinemas 1, 2 & 3 and the top level has Cinemas 4-9. It is a fair distance from the box office to cinema #9 by the way.
This is also one of the first Cineplex locations to have TWO Ultra AVX theaters. #1 (formerly 467 seats, now 420) was installed first, then #2 was converted in November of 2013. #2 had the first Dolby Atmos installation in BC.
I remember going to this Famous Players location for a visit here on vacation in 1999 and loving it. It was my first visit to the city and I recall navigating through Calgary’s Plus 15 system and wound up here, eventually watching the silly Hugh Grant movie “Mickey Blue Eyes”.
The theater entrance was on the top floor of Bankers Hall, navigated through some escalators. It had a free-standing box office before you entered the cinema.
I watched “Mickey Blue Eyes” in screen #2 and as I walked in I was rather surprised to discover this traditional Famous Players theater featured stadium seating! Immediately this made me think this cinema was a bizarre halfway between a traditional FP build and a Silvercity, which were just becoming popular in Canada at the time.
Obviously due to the design of the place and being on the top floor of the Bankers Hall building gave them reason to have great sight lines between each row. This theater was also part of the late 80’s FP design where each theater had its own name (“Bijou”, “Rialto” etc) and there are still a few of these surviving in Canada.
This was a nice Famous Players location in downtown Calgary and shame to see that it barely survived over a decade. Just wish there were actual pictures of this cinema somewhere.
Great to see some pics of the place from the old Box Office Magazine. I’m guessing as the theater wore on it probably was renovated to look more like a standard, traditional Famous Players cinema. Would love to see more photos of this place over the decades.
Apparently I walked right by the entrance to this cinema last fall while in town for TIFF and didn’t even realize it!
It was definitely a unique cinema in many ways. I will be uploading photos soon. A lot of them. So many in fact that it’s pretty much the reason. I took thousands of photos from many angles over the course of a few months to cover nearly all the bases.
But I’ll try to describe it. The street level entrance is a decent size. As you enter the box office is immediately ahead and a the lower lobby featuring circular seating is to the left as you enter the doors. To the right was a rather large arcade called The Zone that was added in the mid 00’s when Empire took over.
Once tickets are purchased from either the box office, ABO’s or the Zone, you ascend a large circular ramp which takes you up above street level to the second story. While you ascend you can see above street level from a unique glass dome
Once you arrive at the top of the ramp, your ticket is taken there by an usher/supervisor. Now you are on the second level where all the auditoriums are. Immediately when you get to the ramp, the first thing you will see is the largest cinema, #2, looking at you from two sets of double doors. Cinema #1, the smallest is immediately to the left of the top of the ramp. But upon first glance you immediately see Cinema #2 to your left, a small seating area to the right, and the remaining cinemas stretch an entire city block from #3 to #6 on the left hand side. Concession bar is directly across from Cinema #3 on the right hand side. Above the concessions on a separate floor (accessed by two sets of twisting staircases on both sides of the concession) is the main sets of men and women’s washrooms. There was also a handicapped washroom, slightly hidden across from cinema #5 as well. A generous sized lobby extends all the way down the city block length of cinemas, and at the end there is also a nice set of glass partitions that overlook Blanshard and View street as well.
You can get an impression of the place from my initial set of photos along with Hailee’s set, but I’ll be getting up the full set which will truly show what the place is like. I will also likely delete the original photos I posted. This will take a LONG time as CT only allows one photo up a a time, but I promise I will do it!
This was in many ways a sister theater to the Capitol 6 in Vancouver. Similar carpeting, seating, earth tones and screen sizes in many of the cinemas. Of course I have explained its closing before in detail and understand it’s just a reality of the times, but of course I still miss the many movies and friendships I made there over the years.
Odeon simply got better bookings and Capitol got whatever was left over. Capitol got more kid-friendly pics but those play much better at Silvercity and Westshore.
With Capitol closed I’ve noticed that many saturated-release movies are JUST opening at Silvercity now.
I’m still meaning to put up the rest of my Capitol photos but I have much better shots of every single cinema. #2 and #6 were beautiful rooms but tiny #1, #3-5 were more victims of bad 80’s auditorium design and #3-5 especially were like bowling alleys with tiny screens sitting above oddly placed exit doors.
But at least Cinema #2 (pictured in profile) still has my heart. Over 500 seats and a huge screen, and was also a screen that debuted a lot of sound formats. It played 70mm mag in the late 80’s and in the 90’s it was the debut Victoria cinema for DTS (early 1994), Dolby Digital (1995) and even SDDS was in there for about a year (1997-1998) and #2 in that decade had the best cinema sound I have EVER heard. Only the sight lines were a bit tricky at times but I had a favorite pair of seats near the back corner that fixed that.
No one was coming to see a movie here. Attendance was awful and there was so much repair and maintenance needed that even a chain like ML wouldn’t probably get the numbers back up to make it profitable. Even Landmark didn’t want it (but they did take over University 4 when Empire closed up).
Unless a totally new, ultra modern megaplex goes in here I don’t see another cinema ever opening up. Odeon across the street is still going strong, however.
I noticed that too on a recent walk by the cinema. In fact I am sure most of the seats/screen etc are still there, but all the other stuff is long gone.
I wish I could get in there to see the damage but my main contact for the cinema turned over his keys ages ago. No way of getting in there now.
I will also start uploading my photo set from closing week soon. In the meantime there’s also a great set of photos from Hailee when the place used to run 35mm!
I would kill to see more photos of this cinema. Love the auditorium signs!
Also we were able to get SDDS to work in here in about 2010 or so. Also this was a much older, 70mm capable RK-60 whereas the other ones were a bit more Simplex to thread. (Yeah, lame joke I know.)
This was an RK-60 and it came from the Coronet when it shut down in the late 80’s. It was also 70mm capable.
HUGE thanks for this photo. I have photos of Bertha when she was dismantled and put behind this area when the Barco went in.
I remember you! And very much still missing this place.