By Nikki Jamieson
Let me begin by saying one of my favourite pastimes is watching movies.
While my editor despairs at the fact that I’ve never seen ‘Pulp Fiction’, I enjoy watching a vast assortment of genres, from action to fantasy to documentaries. Granted, I rarely view horror due to an over-active imagination at 1 a.m., but generally speaking I can often be found on the weekend curled on my couch, watching an old favourite.
When I went to university out in Halifax, I was spoiled in the availability of theatres around me. There was a movie theatre literally a block away from my apartment, so whenever I fancied, I could waltz right in and enjoy a new picture to the smell of popcorn, and in stadium seating. And if a group of friends wanted to see a film, we would hop on the bus to Bayer’s Lake and see one in wonderful, wonderful IMAX.
When I moved to Calgary, there was an assortment of theatres to easily choose from, and I cannot begin to describe the joy in sitting in assigned, reclining seating, viewing a dinosaur rampage in 3D on a screen that is easily the size of a few school buses.
Unfortunately, here in Taber the closest movie theatre is about a 40-minute drive away, providing there’s no traffic.
When you factor in things like parking, waiting to buy tickets, getting a good seat and popcorn, then I would have to leave home approximately one hour and 15 minutes before the show starts, and that’s cutting it close by skipping the previews.
I have seen maybe one feature picture since leaving Calgary this past September, and that was when I went back to Calgary at Christmas.
Do not get me wrong, I am very much enjoying my time here in Taber, but I miss movie theatres, but cannot yet justify spending half my day, or more depending on the length of the movie, just to go to see one a couple of towns over.
When chatting with my coworkers one day, I was surprised to learn that someone had tried to get a theatre into Taber several years ago, but the proposal got turned down.
Personally, I do not understand why, isn’t there a focus on keeping people in the area? Surely having amenities such as a movie theatre would be an appeal to others than myself.
A bit of research revealed that Taber at one point did indeed have a theatre – until it closed in 1984. There was also a drive-in theatre, but that burnt down in 1975.
Needless to say, I think we should bring a theatre back to Taber.
Thanks to the magical world of online shopping, you can get pretty much all you need between the businesses that are in Taber and area and the Internet. We have multiple grocery stores, gyms, parks, restaurants, aquatic centres, an arts scene, farmer’s markets, a local newspaper and a Wal-Mart even – supposedly the sign of a prosperous area. The only thing we’re missing really is a movie theatre, and then the town would be all set.
The movie theatre doesn’t have to be huge, it could be maybe big enough to fit two to five screens, which would be plenty for the nearby population. It doesn’t even need to show the latest blockbusters that are just coming out. It could be a second run theatre maybe, showing the second runs of newer films or old favourites – because who doesn’t want to see Star Wars (again) on May 4 (aka, May the Fourth be with you) on the big screen?
While I do not have access to the exact numbers, some preliminary research has shown that since in the first initial weeks a film is playing in theatres is when it is the most expensive to show, for a second-run theatre costs would be significantly cheaper on getting film rights. The majority of costs for the theatre would be in getting it up and running, rent and concessions.
But where would we put it? Even if it is only a couple of screens, movie theatres are big buildings. But it’s not like there isn’t space in Taber. It could go out by the local Wal-Mart, we could build it in our industrial area or retrofit some of the vacant buildings downtown.
And lets not forget, a theatre can be used for more then movies. Local theatre productions can be staged there as well, along with some sporting events, competitions and even conferences/meetings. If we made it a multi-use facility, there could also be additional revenue generated from people booking the stages or event tickets.
We could get a lot of use out of a movie theatre, with, at the very least, possibly over 20,000 people having access to it (considering the approximat combined populations of the town of Taber, M.D. of Taber, Barnwell, Vauxhall, Bow Island, Warner, Milk River, Burdett and Wrentham). Surely there are at least enough potential movie lovers amoung those, who would be willing to go to a theatre on a semi-regular basis? There has got to be enough people in the area to support it.
The building itself doesn’t need to be fancy; a few signs saying what is playing, automated and manned ticket booths, a place to sell and pop popcorn and pour fountain drinks (which could also double as said ticket booths), popcorn proof flooring, giant screens and seating so everyone can see the screen clearly.
Yes, giant dragon installations that are supposed to breathe fire are fun and all, but really, they are very costly to maintain and everyone only comes for the movies, not to ogle said statue. Just ask Scotiabank Theatre in Edmonton – they had a giant fire-breathing statue installed in 1999 when the theatre first opened under the name SilverCity, until it broke down in October 2010. Que four years of expensive tears, repairs and no fire breathing for the masses until the theatre decided to cut its losses and remove it.
In short, bringing a movie theatre to Taber is a good idea, and should not be overly expensive to do. It would provide steady evening and weekend entertainment for those in Taber and the surrounding area, and think of all the time you will save from not trekking back and forth from Lethbridge every time you want to see a film. Time you can spend talking about the movie and dissecting the characters’ actions with your fellow moviegoers.
Maybe, with all that newfound free time on your hands, you can even go and see another film.