The Rio is Up for Sale and Fans are Rallying to Save It
The cult-favourite theatre needs community support.
February 2, 2018
Catching a blockbuster in a big air-conditioned commercial theatre has its charms, but there’s no cinematic experience in Vancouver that quite compares to The Rio.
The independent theatre has long specialized in screenings of cult classics (Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Room) and indie darlings (like the twisting tickle-ring documentary Tickled), and frequently hosts live events as well. Any given week, you’ll find a mix of surprises: the long-running live variety-comedy show Talent Time; nerd-forward improv shows based on Cards Against Humanity and D&D; alternative burlesque performances (this weekend, a YTV-themed performance is taking place and we are slightly alarmed at how PJ Phil and Snit might be represented).
The theatre struggled against the man in 2012 when the BC Liquor Board was poised to revoke its liquor license, but a vocal opposition helped preserve the status quo—good news for those who care to enjoy a margarita with their reasonably priced popcorn.
Apparently that was not the last fight the Rio would have to fight—now, the historic Art Deco building has been listed for sale, and the business operators are preparing an offer to buy it themselves, but with their cash proposition they’ll need to demonstrate community support for the beloved venue…and in a hurry too, as the deadline is February 6.
Whatever happens to the building, the city has built into the zoning that any future developers will need to include a movie theatre, but a Cineplex isn’t necessarily an appropriate replacement for what the Rio offers. The operators currently have an eight-year lease, but a new developer would likely pressure them to shorten the term, so a straight up buy-out would be the best long-term solution to keep the shows rolling.
You can show support in a few ways: tagging your social posts with#SavetheRio, signing the Rio’s petition or contacting your local director of development services. And then get down to the Drive and see some strange and delightful film events and performance art while you know you still can.