Cineplex Odeon Victoria

780 Yates Street,
Victoria, BC V8W 1L4

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Jason Whyte
Jason Whyte on November 16, 2011 at 8:25 am

Blade Runner,

I had a talk with good ‘ol GM Pierre at the Odeon recently, showed him this post and he confirmed everything you said. My previous source was a younger GM who told me of the incorrect split…so my apologies on that! And big thanks for all of your memories of working there; that’s really amazing stuff! As I’m also a lot younger, I only have faint memories of the Counting House and the Haida, but I loved those cinemas. The Haida had a small balcony that I loved to “sneak up” into sometimes.

(I’d also like to add to your post that Cineplex Odeon had the Towne until the early 90’s, then Landmark re-opened it as The Vic in ‘95)

As is now, I’m still trying to figure out how the heck they had two screens from the original screen. That twinning must have been a disaster resulting in two narrow, “bowling alley” type theatres. Currently #5 (formerly #1) is known as “The Big House” and people still love it.

On another note, the Odeon is now all digital projection. All of the film equipment has been removed, save for the Century/Prevost in #5 (although I haven’t been in the booth to see if the rest of it is still intact).

Capitol 6 across the street is now 100% digital and all film equipment has been removed.

bladerunner
bladerunner on April 28, 2011 at 11:58 am

“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.

Jason Whyte
Jason Whyte on April 28, 2011 at 8:03 am

Rumors abound that Cineplex will switch this theater entirely over to digital projection in the summer or early fall. I’m just hoping they enlarge the smaller auds (#1 and #2, still to this day the former orchestra of the original huge auditorium) somehow.

Jason Whyte
Jason Whyte on December 22, 2010 at 3:18 am

Theaters #4 and #6 now feature Real D 3D projection capabilities, although for the most part 2D features are booked into these screens. The 35mm equipment has been removed.

Cinema #5, the largest auditorium (and former balcony of the original cinema) had Real 3D capabilities for about a year, but is now back to 35mm only. I have been told this may change soon as the entire complex may go digital next year, and #5 will be the first to be converted back.

“Bladerunner” is also incorrect about the twinning of the cinema. Originally the balcony and orchestra were divided making this a twin cinema for a few years, then the orchestra was divided making this a triple.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 24, 2009 at 12:29 am

The Odeon was another of the Art Moderne theaters designed for the chain by architect Henry Holdsby Simmonds. A Boxoffice item of March 6, 1948, gives the opening date as February 27 that year and says the house seated 962 on the main floor, 228 in the loge, and 300 in the balcony.

bladerunner
bladerunner on July 6, 2009 at 1:41 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.

Jason Whyte
Jason Whyte on July 17, 2008 at 7:37 am

Here is a nice photostream on Cinematour. I also have some photos of the Odeon, my favorite cinema in Victoria, to add to this site soon.

Jason Whyte
Jason Whyte on November 29, 2004 at 8:43 am

A fine theater in downtown Victoria, BC, that is still going along strong thanks to good programming and a good fanbase, and is surviving despite yet another moronic Famous Players Silvercity out of town.

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). DTS was installed into the upstairs #1 around 1994. Also, the whole theater ran on 6000ft changeover reels prior to the 1997 renovation, so it required a unioned projectionist on duty who needed timing and precision to change every reel on cue. (I also remember the theater used automation so just in case the projectionist missed the changeover, the film would just stop instead of the audience watching the film tail out.) Surprisingly, the new platter-deck systems were put into operation in early 1996 even while the older three screens ran.

The 7-screen renovation was finally complete around March, 1997. “Sling Blade”, “Ridicule”, “Lost Highway” and “Dante’s Peak” were the first films to show on the newer theaters, each seating around 240. DTS and Dolby SR were installed into all four new theaters, each also boasting large, curved wide-screens. Projection on these newer theaters are razor-sharp, even to this day. The old triplex still ran as it was before, old curtains and seats and all, but was upgraded with new seats and curtains around fall, 1997 (they closed those theaters while the newer four screens were still open). The old upstairs theater is now cinema #5 and has a seat count just over 400. Ironically, theater #2 has more seats than the newer theaters with about 280, so you’ll sometimes see a newer film open on there first if cinema #5 is busy. And most of the older films get to cinema #1 (210 seats), which is small and cramped, although around 1999 DTS systems were also installed into these smaller old cinemas.

The Odeon 7 frequently picks up more foreign and independent films than its competitor, Famous Players Capitol 6, across the street. The Odeon normally books films from 20th Century Fox, Columbia, Universal and Alliance Atlantis (because of that, the Capitol normally gets all Disney, Warner and Paramount product), but since the largest cinema at Capitol (#2) has more seats (530), sometimes they get booking first.

As of 2004, The Odeon is the closest anyone is going to get to the grandeur of old-fashioned moviegoing in Victoria.

Jason Whyte, efilmcritic.com

sethbook
sethbook on November 23, 2004 at 7:15 am

I almost went to a movie here in October 2004, but the timing was off. The theatre has a wonderful vertical marquee with the Odeon name in lights, making it quite visible from a distance. The only other movie theatre we spotted was almost indistinguishable from the office building in whose basement it was located. The Odeon is very much the art deco 1940s flavor of theatre with a separate box office for issuing tickets. Wish I took a photo of this.