Operators of threatened independent Vancouver cinema launch its second act

By The Canadian Press
February 8, 2018 - 12:00pm

VANCOUVER — The operators of one of the last independent movie theatres in Vancouver say their multimillion-dollar offer to buy the aging cinema has been accepted and now they have 60 days to finalize the deal.

Corinne Lea says she was biting her fingernails Wednesday while she and her business partner waited to hear if their offer for the Rio Theatre in east Vancouver would be successful.

When approval came through, Lea says she and the staff enjoyed a bottle of hastily purchased champagne and then she turned her attention to financing the purchase, which she will only confirm is above the theatre's $4.3-million assessed value.

Public support for the 80-year-old cinema has been overwhelming, from financial donations to offers of partnership, and Lea says there are plans to create a non-profit society so donors will own a share of the building.

One of Lea's first decisions, as her own landlord, is to double the Rio's rent, a move she admits will put a burden on the business, but she says she has to be realistic.

The Rio is beloved for running independent films and also hosting burlesque, comedy, improv and variety shows, and Lea says details about how the public can participate in fundraising or other events to save the theatre will come soon.

The Canadian Press

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