***Update (August 10th): Owner Mike Brar has spoken to the Calgary Herald and stated that the Plaza is in no danger of closing, although it will require the $100,000 upgrades sometime in the future. “If people want to support us, come to the movies and come to the Plaza,” Brar said.
In the 1920s, it was built as an automobile garage. When it opened its doors on January 10th, 1935 with the comedy “Mr. Skitch”, it became Calgary’s third movie house. Now, after 77 years, the Plaza Theatre in Kensington is Calgary’s last remaining independant, neighbourhood, art house theatre.
The theatre, which used to charge 10 cents a show, has recently felt the need to upgrade. Most films shown at the Plaza are 35 mm film, and although they have a digital projector, the theatre will require $100,000 in upgrades to switch over to a digital cinema server. Most film distributors are making the switch to distributing films purely in a digital format by January, rather than on 35 mm. The transition will save thousands of dollars for studios, but is a scary move for small businesses that can’t afford the upgrades.
While this news might seem less than awesome, the small theatre’s struggle has galvanised Calgary’s film community. The Plaza has been home to over 20,000 film screenings, as well as a variety of film festivals and community events. Actor Benjamin Laird and burlesque artist Raven Virginia (of the Garter Girls) have started an Indiegogo fundraiser campaign to raise money towards the digital upgrades at indiegogo.com/savetheplaza.
Personally, the Plaza is one of my favourite places in Calgary. It’s an amazing centre for the film community and home to some of my favourite memories, such as the Rocky Horror Picture Show midnight screenings, the Calgary International Film Festival, and the chance to meet incredible actors and film makers. It might sound cheesy, but this crisis is more of an opportunity – here’s our chance to show that we support this amazing piece of Calgary’s film history, and show how much we love independent movies.
If you want to help support the Plaza, here are a couple ways you can help out:
- Attend an event or movie. You can check out the schedule on their website – they have discounts for students, seniors, as well as special rates for Tuesdays and matinees (you won’t find that at most cinema chains!)
- Donate to the Save the Plaza campaign on Indiegogo.
- Show your support for the theatre! Share photos or stories of your favourite happy memories at the Plaza Theatre with us on twitter - use the hashtag #savetheplaza.