Cineplex announced May 15 it plans to open an 11-screen, 44,000-square-foot theatre including luxury VIP seating and a liquor licence on the south side of the mall.
“After many years of searching for a new location in West Vancouver, we are extremely pleased to share the news that we are building this new theatre complex and our fourth VIP Cinemas experience in British Columbia at the Park Royal Shopping Centre,” said Pat Marshall, vice-president of communications for Cineplex Entertainment, in a release.
Park Royal hasn’t hosted movies since 1999. Its operators have been talking about getting back into showing flicks for several years.
“I’ve been waiting for 10 years for the movie theatre to come back to Park Royal, so I’ve got a whole bunch (of movies) that I need to see,” said Rick Amantea, Park Royal vice-president.
Once completed in late 2018, the theatre will include a VIP adults-only section where moviegoers can pay to watch from luxury recliners and order confections from an expanded menu, including burgers, salads, artisanal cheese plates, charcuterie boards, and craft beer and wine, all of which can be delivered to guests’ seats.
The seats themselves “move in concert with the action on the big screen” and can be controlled from the armrest, according to Cineplex.
“The technology is changing so quickly, it will be quite an experience for moviegoers - certainly unlike anything we’ve seen on the North Shore and in many ways, unlike anything else in Metro Vancouver,” Amantea said.
The project has already gone through all of the necessary approvals with the Squamish Nation, from whom Park Royal leases the land. Park Royal has been in talks with Cineplex about the project since 2014. The entire structure, including two main auditoriums with “a few hundred” seats and remaining smaller theatres with up to 120 seats, will be built as a third storey on top of the existing Sport Chek, Osaka and the Brick (former site of Eaton’s). That portion of the mall was designed to have another storey and none of the stores will have to close during construction.
“We’ve been working very closely with Cineplex for the last three years on this particular location and the complications of building something like this overtop an existing building, which to the best of our knowledge, for cinemas anyways, has never been done,” he said. “It’s taken a lot of work but both Cineplex and ourselves are very, very happy to be at this point now.”
More than blockbusters and superhero sequels, Amantea said he is expecting to see some diverse offerings on Cineplex’s marquee.
“It’ll feature first-run movies, for certain but based on what Cineplex is doing today in their other locations and corporately, it will not be unusual to see some interesting repertory films. Maybe we get film festival showings here. Maybe we see some simulcasts, whether they’re concerts or sporting events or other things. They’re very, very adaptable auditoriums,” he said.
Amantea said he expects the theatre will appeal mostly to North Shore residents, but also likely will draw people from Vancouver’s West End and from Squamish, which lost its only picture show more than five years ago.
“I’m going to be a regular moviegoer as soon as we get the Cineplex built here because, having it in our own backyard is just so convenient,” he said.
The Squamish Nation will also have a hand in the project.
“We welcome this project and look forward to the installation of a significant piece of authentic Squamish Nation public art in the mall near the theatre entrance which will celebrate its location on Squamish Nation land,” said Chris Lewis, Squamish chiefs and council spokesman.
West Vancouver Mayor Michael Smith is also welcoming the news.
“Adding some nighttime vibrancy and activity to West Vancouver is good a thing,” he said.