Have you ever watched a movie down South with a cold beer in your hand at establishments like the Alamo Drafthouse in Texas or Cinebarre in Washington State? Have you ever wondered why you can’t do the same in BC? Well, our BC Liquor laws state that you cannot have bar service in a movie theatre, plain and simple. This is something that the Rio Theatre has been trying to change for a long time.
Earlier this week we heard news that the Rio Theatre was granted their primary liquor license. A huge victory, one would think. The East Vancouver movie house could now host 19+ performances and events with a bar service and return to their regularly scheduled, dry, movie nights. Cue the record scratch.
Yesterday it was announced that the BC Liquor Control and Licensing Branch issued a condition to the Rio Theatre that stated that even though they’re not planning on serving alcohol during movie nights, with this new license they can’t have any movie nights. The Rio was notified of this condition orally and in writing ahead of time, per Karen Ayers, General Manager of the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch [Vancouver Sun].
“By regulation, movie theatres are prohibited from applying for a liquor primary license. Under current regulations and policies, you cannot operate as a licensed live theatre at some times and an unlicensed movie theatre at others. Therefore the following term and condition will be placed on your liquor primary license: This establishment is not permitted to show movies or any type of cinematic screenings at any time.”
Upon receiving this notice, Corinne Lea, General Manager and Owner of the Rio Theatre made the decision to stop having movie nights [Vancouver Sun]. No more midnight screenings in costume (which I believe is a right of passage as a Vancouverite), no more cheap matinees.
“We are very disappointed that this condition has been placed on us by the LCB, as this means we will no longer be able to show our community film events such as our Midnight Movies, Movies For Mommies, The Friends of Dorothy Queer Film series, the DOXA and Out on Screen Film Festival, to name a few. In addition, we will no longer be able to support Independent film screenings for local animators and filmmakers, creating a huge void in Vancouver’s cultural fabric.”
They will be taking this up with the government but until then Lea says that the Rio will be dark on days they don’t have live events scheduled.
Follow @RioTheatre on Twitter for updates and to show your support. Quotes used in this post were issued in a Rio Theatre press release this morning.
For additional reading, check out The Tyee’s recent article: BC’s Top Five Looniest Liquor Laws. The list includes prohibiting artists on stage from drinking, no cross provincial border wine smuggling, and no happy hours.