NEWTON â€” As other independently-owned movie theatres close down around the region, Rahim Manji is aiming to compete with the multiplexes by improving his Hollywood 3 Cinemas.
New â€œhighbackâ€ seats â€“ 375 of them â€“ were installed in two of the three theatres early last week, with fresh coats of paint added throughout. The renovation work is amplified by a Dolby sound system and digital projectors, including one with 3D capability, hooked up a couple years ago.
Clearly, Manji is investing money in his Newton business in the face of failing movie theatres all around him, including his own Dolphin Cinemas, which recently shut its doors in Burnaby.
In Cloverdale, the Clova is closing at summerâ€™s end due to lease and technological challenges, a similar fate faced by the Rialto in South Surrey this past April.
â€œItâ€™s horrible whatâ€™s happening,â€ lamented Manji, â€œbecause weâ€™re all friends and we all know each other, even though weâ€™re competitors. Itâ€™s a small group of people who own theatres, and itâ€™s sad.â€
At Hollywood 3, Manji said he wants to â€œgive customers what they deserveâ€ when they pay to see movies such as Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Heaven is For Real and Legends of Oz: Dorothyâ€™s Return (all now playing).
â€œI mean, although itâ€™s $3.50 to get in (for some people, at certain times), people should still get the same quality as in bigger theatres, and thatâ€™s why we changed our sound system and projection system, so theyâ€™re having the exact same experience as at the big multiplexes, at a third of the cost. Weâ€™re trying to match that experience.â€
Manji began operating the Newton theatre in 2008 when he moved his family to Surrey, after running a couple of theatres on Vancouver Island, and now lives nearby.
Because of the relative value for theatre-going dollar, customers drive to Hollywood 3 from around the region, he said.
â€œVolume matters to us,â€ Manji said. â€œItâ€™s been tough lately, and independent owners are a dying breed in this business. I donâ€™t want to see this theatre go, too. The only way to make it happen here is by people supporting us and coming to see movies.â€
A small stage will soon be installed in one of the theatres, in a bid to attract concerts, plays, corporate events and possibly church congregations to Hollywood 3 â€“ â€œwhatever we can do to pay the rent, which is what itâ€™s all about for independents,â€ Manji said.
â€œWe actually do a lot of corporate events here and meetings, for McDonaldâ€™s and Costco, Christmas events, product launches. We get a lot of big companies here because with our new digital equipment, we can do PowerPoint presentations, you name it.â€