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The strange Rio Theatre story

January 26th, 2012 · 34 Comments

The media duststorm over the Rio Theatre being forced to give up showing movies because it got its liquor licence really has me puzzled.

Why? Because it was reported last October, when Vancouver city council endorsed giving the theatre a liquor licence, that it wouldn’t be able to show movies if it got the licence.

Several media outlets wrote about this. Here’s one story from the Georgia Straight and another from the Sun.

But somehow, when Rio owner Corinne Lea told everyone last week it was a “total surprise” to her that she wouldn’t be able to show movies, everyone went crazy over the story.

Just to be clear — I’d love to be able to have a drink while I’m watching a movie, so I’m not against the concept at all. My blog followers know that I wallowed in the overstuffed chairs of the Living Room Theatre in Portland last fall, swilling alcohol and watching movies I didn’t much care about, just for the pleasure of the experience.

But I don’t get why this story was a “surprise” or why it generated such media attention now, but not back in October. Is it just the fact that Councillor Heather Deal got into the act now, but she didn’t then? Or what?

I’d also love to hear an explanation for why the Rio owners didn’t just keep operating the way they had been. They were able to serve liquor at concerts by getting special-event licences for the nights they needed them. Then they were free to show movies the other nights.

I don’t know how much of a hassle it was to do it that way, but, simply as an interested neighbourhood person, I’d like to know how much of what has happened at the Rio came about because of the owner’s decision to choose a liquor licence over movies.

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