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Offers Come In on Royal and Revue


Last night in the teacher's lounge at Howard Public School, more than 30 members of the Roncesvalles community including councillor Sylvia Watson gathered to discuss the plight of their local cinema in a meeting that was billed as "Save the Revue".

Owner Chris McQuillan spoke at length and filled the crowd in on the latest developments. Here's what I learned:

* There have been a number of bids on the Royal Cinema. Offers close today and apparently at least some of the interested parties intend to keep the Royal operating as either a cinema or a live theatre venue.

* The owners were essentially forced to sell the Royal to pay off debts accumulated from operating the Festival Cinemas over the years.

* There has been one unsolicited offer to buy the Revue, even though the owners have no intention of selling. The owners are in discussion with two other parties to lease the property; one a former employee and the other an operator of another Rep cinema who a year earlier had offered to buy the Revue outright.

* On June 22nd, there will be a public meeting to discuss whether the Revue will be designated a Heritage property. The owners expressed disappointment in this turn of events, as heritage status would significantly de-value the property.

Given that offers are coming in, the role of the community members who gathered last night is unclear. There was talk about pursuing charitable status; but this seems unrealistic. There was perhaps not enough talk about re-structuring the operations. It seems both the majority of community members and the current owners are victims of in-the box thinking and holding onto the romantic idea of maintaining the Revue as a community cinema with tickets for $4.25.

What I was hoping to hear was more discussion on alternatives how to turn this business around including some of the suggestions previously made in this comment thread.

My two cents:

* Increase prices threefold to be on par with the multiplexes. The Revue shouldn't be seen as a discount theatre; but instead as a premium film-going experience.

* Re-think the concession stands. Popcorn and Pepsi is so passe. Instead, offer healthier snacks at reasonable prices.

* Don't compete with DVDs. Forget about offering older art-house films, classics and second run films that are available on DVD. Think niche. Documentary, independent and Bollywood films are all under-represented in the marketplace.


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