One year ago, local movie lovers packed the Nelson Civic Theatre to see the first movie light up the silver screen after 2½ years of darkness.
The theatre screened a 35mm film version of the James Bond movie, Skyfall, on its outdated projection system with sound coming from a single speaker positioned behind the screen.
Three months and $150,000 of fundraising later, the theatre kissed that old projector goodbye. With the installation of a new digital projector and 25-speaker surround sound system came a regular program of film screenings, at least five nights per week.
To celebrate its first anniversary, the Civic Theatre will spend the next week and a half showing some of the best movies of 2013, while raising money to renovate its concession area. This will be the Civic’s only public fundraiser this year.
The festivities include screenings of seven different Oscar-nominated films, beginning February 20 and continuing February 26 to March 2 — the films, in the order they’ll be shown, are Broken Circle Breakdown, Philomena, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, American Hustle and Ernest and Celestine. The theatre will also have a live stream of the Oscar broadcast on Sunday evening.
The main fundraising event is a gala screening and Oscar-style dress up party for American Hustle on Saturday, March 1. The theatre aisles will serve as a dance floor, with a DJ spinning on stage before and after the movie. There will also be drinks and hors d’oeuvres — and costume prizes — at this licensed event (must be 19 or older to attend).
Organizers are hoping that by the time the Oscars are over, the theatre will have the $30,000 yet to raised towards an $80,000 concession stand upgrade (they have a $30,000 grant from Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust and funds left over from earlier campaigns to cover the rest).
All proceeds from movie screenings and the gala event, as well as any donations that come in before March 2, will contribute to that total.
“You can help out just by going to the movies,” project manager Roger Ley said, adding that seat sponsors are still being accepted and donations made through the city are eligible for tax receipts.
The concession upgrade will feature a new, higher volume popcorn maker, commercial-grade refrigeration units and a fountain pop machine.
“It will bring the theatre up to industry standards,” Ley explained. “A lot of people tell us that a night at the theatre is the one time they’ll drink a big cup of Coke and eat fatty popcorn.”
Currently the concession stand is stocked with cans of Blue Sky Soda, juices and coconut water. These type of healthier drink options will still be available after the renovations.
There’s also talk of installing a warming case to sell pizza by the slice.
The Civic Theatre’s long term goal is to undergo renovations to turn the space into a three-screen multiplex. Ley said all the upgrades to the concession will fit with the redesign.
Tickets for the gala are $25, available at civictheatre.ca.