Theatre brings soccer to silver screen
By Rhiannon Coppin-Contributing
Vancouver Courier 05/31/2006
Unlike the West Side's
Varsity cinema, which met this year with the wrecker's ball,
the newly revamped Rio on Broadway is proving that neighbourhood
cinemas can do a lot more in 2006 than act as place holders
Mukesh Goyal, the 33-year-old
entrepreneur who revived the 458-seat Rio theatre this year
for a May 5 grand opening, isn't afraid to try something new.
When the 2006 World Cup begins, he'll be showing 28 of the "prime
time" matches. From June 9 to July 9, theatre patrons can watch
soccer on the big screen, thanks to a an eye-widening 38-foot
tall high-definition projection system accompanied by a snappy
20-speaker Dolby surround sound system.
"We're donating staffing
and security, the cost of renting the $35,000 projection equipment
and two satellite feeds-one for backup -and we're collecting
five or six dollars at the door, with the proceeds going to
the 2006 FIFA official charity: SOS Children's Villages," said
Goyal. "We're hoping to raise tens of thousands of dollars."
The event is an initiative
spearheaded by the Vancouver Whitecaps and area merchants to
officially recognize and advertise the Drive as Vancouver's
destination for getting into the World Cup spirit.
Goyal hopes the exposure
from the World Cup games will help put the Rio theatre back
on the map. He's already sunk over $2 million into the purchase
and renovation of the previously neglected 68-year-old property.
Over the past few decades,
1660 East Broadway was best known
(if at all) as the venue for a bowling alley and strings of
failed second-run and foreign-language cinemas; almost no one
remembers the Rio's glory days as "the showplace of Vancouver."
"People may not know about
the Rio theatre because, in many cases, it predates their generation,"
said Goyal. "Some people know about the Rio from 1938 to the
1950s but, [with] that long gap in between, it's almost like
we're starting out as a brand new theatre."
Although he brought in
all-new projection and sound equipment in addition to ergonomic
seats (which happily transform into loveseats thanks to adjustable
arm rests) Goyal wanted to maintain a distinct "retro" feel
in the vintage theatre.
The Rio has greeters and
ushers, show announcers, full movie curtains, a 110-seat balcony,
a true-to-the-original 18-foot red neon and white incandescent
exterior sign, and-wait for it-no pre-show slideshow ads.
Goyal has also opted for
slightly-retro admission prices.
"Every time I go to the
theatre, I don't want to feel like I'm getting ripped off. That's
one of the things that I kept in mind in every aspect of this
theatre. I don't want to get ripped off at the box office, I
don't want to get ripped off on concession, and I definitely
don't want to get ripped off on the presentation," he said.
Though he couldn't quite
roll back to the 25-cent tickets of 1938, Goyal has pushed the
price back to early-'90s benchmarks. Tickets are $8 for adults,
$7 for youth and $5 for children and seniors. The Rio also offers
$5 matinees and $5 Tuesday night shows.
Goyal said he doesn't
view the Van East cinema at Seventh Avenue and Commercial Drive
as competition. He points out that the two theatres will likely
never be showing the same film at the same time.
Goyal is interested in
the revitalization of the area around the intersection of Broadway
at Commercial, and would like to rent or donate time and space
to community groups and residents' associations. He hopes to
reopen the theatre's front stage for the occasional live performance.
to operate it as a film theatre, but my ultimate goal is to
look at it like a community asset."