Here’s The Thing

by Bob Woolsey

On November 4, the Granville 7 Theatre will close its doors. It’s that same old tale of the older, smaller company having to downsize due to the pressure being put on it by the bigger, flashier more modern competitors. As much as I understand economics and the trend of the Granville strip area towards this kind of modernization, I still feel a twinge of pain deep down in my cold consumer heart over it all.

When I first moved to Vancouver from the bustling metropolis of Prince George, I was extremely excited to have so many options for movie nights. Especially since the move was precipitated by my trip to film school (a topic for a later date). Back then, the Granville 7’s biggest competitor was the Capitol 6 right across the street. Granville street was still the bar district that it is now, but there were definite parts of it that retained that old, gritty Vancouver of the past feel to it.

(Side bar – if you ever get the chance to see the old Dennis Hopper directed Out of the Blue [aka No Looking Back] from 1980 or so, DO IT. It was shot on location here and features beautiful images of Hastings Street right near the end of its heyday as well as various other landmarks around town.)

I remember lining up outside of the Granville 7 to see Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Maybe those memories aren’t all roses, but I also remember going to see many the odd film there over the years by myself. It was the perfect place to walk by and wander into whatever movie happened to be playing at that time just because you had nowhere to be for a couple hours. Was. I’m already referring to it in the past tense. Recently I had the good fortune to shoot a web project there about a small indie theatre that was being threatened by the big multiplex across the street. Art imitating life, much?

As I sit here and think about all the times I’ve been to the Granville 7, I’m struck that I can’t remember the last movie I saw there. Apart from VIFF films, I’m at a loss to think of the last time that I actually went down to the Granville 7 and paid to see film. Which is, of course, the problem. While I would bet money that most any film-goer in Vancouver has fond memories of this theatre, they probably haven’t been there in a while. The neighbourhood has changed, the theatre’s movie content changed and everywhere else movie theatres got better.

The immediate reaction of anyone who loves something is to hold on to it. When it comes to things like this though, sometimes it’s better just to let it go. I mean, let’s be honest here, if this place was kept open and continued to limp along as it had, it would soon fall into an increasing state of disrepair. Even 10 years ago when you walked into the place, your first thought was about how much it needed a renovation.

My Grandfather passed away last month. He was an amazing guy who immigrated to Canada from Scotland in the ‘60s with my Grandma, my Mum and her four sisters. He was one of the single most influential people on my development into an adult. Of course, I’m saddened by his departure, but more than anything, I’m just really, really thankful that he was my Grandfather and that I have so many memories and lessons from him to pass on to my kids and grandkids.

It’s exactly the same with the Granville 7. Yes, it was a great place to go watch movies. Yes, it was neat to see all the neon and puke green carpets in the middle of a city made mostly of glass. Yes, we’ll all miss it, but here’s the thing: at the end of the day, it’s Granville 7’s time to go and I, for one, think our time would be better spent looking toward the future so we can discover how to build new, sustainable independent theatres in Vancouver, rather than crying over the loss of this old girl.