Cinemas open in Alberta, while Airdrie's theatre remains dark


As of Wednesday, movie theatres across Alberta have re-opened, but for local movie-goers that date came just a few weeks too late.

On Victoria Day, the city's only movie theatre, the Roxy, closed permanently after Landmark Cinemas decided not to renew its lease on the property at the end of May.

CEO of Landmark Bill Walker said the decision was not easy.

"We were faced with a decision of whether we were going to commit to that asset or whether we were going to focus our attention on the other assets we had in the greater Airdrie and Calgary area. The reality of running a two-screen theatre like that, the economics were quite difficult for some time."

Walker said they focused their efforts toward maintaining their larger theatres in Calgary including Country Hills, Market Mall and Shawnessey.

The Roxy had been a staple in the community for more than 20 years and aside from showing big box office hits, also provided space for school viewings, local events and the Airdrie Film Festival.

While there are rumours the company is planning to build another theatre in the Sierra Springs area, Walker said as of now, no decisions have been made.

"What's going to need to happen from a pandemic perspective, the business needs to settle out, we need to understand where the chips fall and how the business recovers. Then we're going to be out there assessing new theatre opportunities and Airdrie's always been one of those markets we certainly watched because we did feel that there was a greater opportunity than what we were servicing in the little two-screen theatre we had."

Despite the closure, Walker had nothing but positive things to say about the Roxy and its manager who is still with the company. He added the community continued to support the theatre through the delivery of popcorn and other treats, making the Airdrie location one of the most successful in Alberta despite the pandemic.

As part of stage 2 of the province's reopening plan, indoor entertainment venues like museums and movie theatres are allowed to operate at 1/3 of its fire code capacity.