The people of Sidney adore their independent theatre!
Star Cinema gives the people of the Saanich Peninsula a place to gather and form a community around film.
As of last weekend, the theatre is open in their brand new space which includes three screening rooms.
Star Cinema has been in business since 1998 to provide the small town of Sidney and its neighbouring communities a place to go and see a film without having to go all the way into Victoria.
They expected mostly teens to be their demographic and were surprised at how many seniors became frequent visitors of the cinema.
The now multi-generational cinema has always brought in all kinds of films for its demographic of people of all walks of life, big hits and independent art films alike.
“It’s always been our goal to provide a variety of films, not just the blockbusters but the little gems and special requests,” Sandy Oliver, owner of Star Cinema, told Victoria Buzz.
“Some people have been coming since they were kids and now they’re bringing their kids.”
After two years in construction limbo, they have just moved to their entirely new space in a condo development built by Casman Properties.
When the Town of Sidney realized that the property in which Star Cinema called home was up for sale, they tried to help secure support from a developer who could find a new space that would work for the cinema and the people of Sidney.
Casman Properties began working with the township and the theatre in 2018 to include a space for Star Cinema in their proposal for a new condo development in the heart of town on Third Street and Sidney Avenue.
The developer also helped Star Cinema to find a temporary home for the two year period that construction was underway.
“The town basically said they were going to find a developer who wanted to make sure that this cinema continued, which was incredible,” said Oliver. “I think they even passed a special requirement that this be a movie theatre in perpetuity.”
“It’s a challenging thing to do, building condos above a movie theatre. Casman has done a wonderful job.”
Two of the three screening rooms at the theatre’s new space are quite large, being able to hold 135 and 120 people respectively. They also have a third screening room that can hold 40 people they’ll utilize for private events and exclusive screenings.
On Friday, November 4th, the theatre opened its doors to the public for the first time in their new space.
“There’s things to get used to in a brand new building and we’re going to have to take the time to make it our home but we had a wonderful opening weekend.”
“We were trying to keep it quiet to sort out a few kinks as we get used to being ‘full-serve again.’”
Star Cinema still has yet to plan a proper ‘grand opening,’ but they are thinking sometime in mid-December they’ll host an event to celebrate their new space.
Another way independent, community theatres like Star Cinema separate themselves from large theatres by catering to their individual communities needs and remaining humble and affordable in comparison to mega-cinemas.
“We try and keep things simple,” Oliver told Victoria Buzz. “Our prices are what they say they are, taxes included.”
“Honestly, I think the fact that it’s very community based is what sets us apart.”
“As much as we need to make sure we cover the costs, we try to keep things affordable because we want families to still feel like they can come out.”
“I don’t know any other place you can still get a combo for $5, a small drink and popcorn.”
Even though they have not had their grand opening yet, Oliver and her staff are happy to be in their brand new theatre.
“It’s been so delightful to see our wonderful familiar faces back and hear such nice comments of how much people have been waiting to have us back in town,” said Oliver.
“It’s going to take a while to make it our home, it needs a little more colour from us but we’ll get there.”