Clova Cinema owner Craig Burghardt in happier days – 2007.

Clova Cinema owner Craig Burghardt in happier days – 2007.

Don’t wait for Clova’s final curtain

Surrey cinema’s expected goodbye may be cut short, owner says.

There are Cloverdale couples whose first date was at the Clova Cinema, some maybe sharing a first kiss in its seats.

Those who have a special place in their hearts for the beloved single-screen theatre are now being urged to come and say goodbye sooner than later to avoid disappointment.

The iconic theatre’s building was bought out this year by a local church that has different plans for it.

Despite the outpouring of emotion from patrons in March when they learned the Clova would shut permanently later this summer, attendance has dropped dramatically.

“It’s been dismal,” operator Craig Burghardt told Black Press. “The support has not been there for the past month and a half.”

Burghardt and his staff have watched crowds dwindle in recent weeks, leaving the theatre to “teeter on going bankrupt before we close.”

He’s now cautioning fans not to wait for an official “final”’ screening, but rather patronize the family-run theatre now.

“Don’t be sad that we are closing, enjoy us while we are still here,” said Burghardt, who has been operating the Clova along with a tightly knit crew known as the “Clovamily” since 1996.

“We want to leave you with happy memories of the final days of the Clova but we can’t do that if you aren’t here.”

Patrons are also invited to take part in special events such as the recent concerts starring Beatles tribute band, The Fab Fourever. There’s even talk of hosting an ABBA tribute act soon.

Along with offering an affordable night’s entertainment for families by keeping ticket prices low (and giving discounts to those bringing their own drink cups and popcorn bowls), the Clova is rented out to non-profits for charity screenings and local fundraisers – an important source of financial support that will leave a noticeable absence.

The Clova has helped schools, charities and groups raise an estimated $100,000 or more over the past 18 years through fundraising, donations and sponsorship, Burghardt said.

It’s rented out for kids’ birthday parties, too.

A digital projector would have ushered in a new era for the Clova, which opened in 1947, entertaining successive generations of movie fans.

But Burghardt wasn’t able to secure a long-term lease with the building’s previous owner, No. 9 Holdings. Rather than borrow approximately $60,000 for a digital projection system, the Clova Cinema had mounted an inventive campaign to raise money to cover the expense.

That plan fell through when the building was purchased in March by Crossridge Church, which offered to let the Clova continue showing movies – rent free – until Burghardt could no longer obtain new releases on 35mm film.

As a condition of sale, Crossridge Church agreed to make repairs and work out a Heritage Revitalization Agreement with the City of Surrey, which wants the Clova preserved as a heritage building.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is running to Thursday, June 26 (playing at 7 p.m.).

It’s also playing on school strike days at 10:30 a.m. and at 1:30 p.m. Cash only.


Surrey North Delta Leader