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Whistler's Village 8 Cinemas will close Jan. 5

Imagine Cinemas COO cites labour, housing, logistics for closure
Barring a last-minute management change, Whistler's Village 8 Cinemas will close its doors for good on Jan. 5.

It has been the worst kept secret in Whistler over the past several weeks, but on Dec. 20, Imagine Cinemas confirmed it: Whistler's Village 8 Cinemas will close its doors for good on Jan. 5.

“We’ve been trying to manage this location for a long time. It’s been really, really super challenging,” said Gina Facca, chief operating officer of Imagine Cinemas. “It was challenging before COVID, to be perfectly honest with you … Our home base is in Ontario, and it’s difficult to manage something that’s three [time zones] away and however many kilometres away.”

But operating the theatre only became more challenging with COVID, Facca added.

“It’s been really difficult to get labour,” she said. “A lot of the (seasonals) that would come in from Australia and New Zealand and England, they’re just not available anymore, so it’s just been super challenging.”

Imagine Cinemas has operated the Village 8 since 2015, when it assumed management duties from U.S.-based Metropolitan Theatres.

It currently employs “about 10 part-timers,” Facca said.

“Ideally we would have loved to have had a second full-time manager there, we just haven’t been able to find anybody,” she said.

“It’s been super tough, and obviously we’ve tried closing certain days … and it’s been content, too—content has been hard to come by. So it’s a variety of things, but the distance from our home base is probably the most challenging thing.”

Unsurprisingly, Facca also listed housing as a major hurdle for the theatre.

“It’s pretty easy to find people if they have a place to stay,” she said.

“These are the things that I knew going in, we just never realized it was as bad as it really is. And it’s gotten worse.”

If there is any interest from other operators in running the theatre, Facca said they should speak up sooner rather than later.

“Because right now it’s a turnkey operation, right? Once we start disassembling it, obviously that won’t be a possibility, because the cost of rebuilding a cinema is too exorbitant for anybody to be able to move in there,” she said.

While the theatre’s last day of operations will be Jan. 5, there is no set timeline for dismantling it, Facca said.

Pique reached out to landlord Larco Investments, and will update this story as more information becomes available.

Asked if she had a message for Whistler locals, Facca said she wanted to thank them for the patronage.

“Especially the locals who have supported us for the last seven years,” she said. “We’re sad to go, but unfortunately we’ve exhausted all of our ideas on how to make this work.”