Islanders who love international and independent movies can’t go to the theatre — so the theatre is coming to them.
City Cinema in Charlottetown has partnered with a film distributor to try to stay engaged with its audience.
Like so many other businesses, the movie theatre in the capital city’s downtown is closed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) pandemic.
However, the cinema is now giving people the option of watching the movies it would normally be showing on its big screen in the comfort of their own living rooms.
Rebecca Sly, the new executive director of City Cinema, said they have partnered up with a distributor known as Film Movement to deliver a new offering it's calling virtual cinema.
This virtual cinema will play titles that were originally scheduled to play on the big screen in April – Corpus Christi and The Wild Goose Lake – with plans to expand on this as more titles become available.
“It’s helping us to stay engaged and in contact with our cinemagoers,’’ Sly said Monday.
“It’s letting them know we’re still thinking about them and that we’re still working full time here."
People simply log onto the cinema’s website, bring up the movie schedule and click on the movie. Tickets are $12 per household and are valid for 72 hours from the point of purchase. Proceeds are split 50/50 between the distributor and City Cinema.
“These are unprecedented times and hit small not-for-profits like ourselves where it hurts. We are hoping our virtual cinema will help to ease the sting a little in the coming months and keep us engaged and connected with our audience," Sly said.
It’s been a busy few months for the cinema. It was recently purchased by the Charlottetown Film Society, which has achieved charity status. The cinema has also obtained a license to serve beer and wine while a fresh coat of paint has been put on in the front lobby.
After purchasing the cinema, the film society hired Sly as its new full-time executive director to manage the operation as well as the annual Charlottetown Film Festival. Sly worked alongside former cinema owner Derek Martin for a few weeks before officially taking on the role on March 23.
Sly had previously worked as executive chef for Lt.-Gov. Antoinette Perry, deciding it was time for a change around January.
Sly brings with her a background in operations management. She has worked in the non-profit sector and has experience co-ordinating teams of volunteers and staff.
Sly is also an avid movie lover, with a special interest in international and independent film. In the past, she has volunteered as an extra in various British television productions and films.
“It’s nice to jump into something new, and everybody loves movies as far as I know. To be able to learn more about local filmmaking really excites me and interests me. It’s a very exciting opportunity."
Sly also has a background in hospitality and intends on being there to welcome guests when the cinema re-opens.
Following is a list of Rebecca Sly’s five all-time favourite movies:
- The Birds
- This is England
- The Shining
- The Pianist
- Bridget Jones Diary