Denman Cinemas is dead. Long live Denman Cinemas.
Three short weeks after announcing the closure of the long-running West End independent movie house after being informed by their landlord their short-term lease wouldn’t be renewed, the owners have found a new home at the old Raja Theatre on Kingsway near the Burnaby border.
Manager Naz Jamshedian says she and her husband Mike, who also used to manage the Dolphin and Lougheed Mall theatres, plan to run a mix of Bollywood films and mainstream first-run movies. They hope to become a destination for niche film festivals and local indie filmmakers looking for a place to premiere their work now that other Vancouver single-screen players such as the Ridge, the Hollywood and the Van East have closed their doors. Burnaby's Station Square Cinemas also shut their doors in September while the Granville 7 complex is closing down next month.
“We’ve hosted the Serbian Film Festival, the Vancouver South African Film Festival and the [DOXA] documentary film festival and we are hoping to get all of them to come back because there really is nowhere left they can go,” Jamshedian told the Courier.
The couple, who are both originally from India, still haven’t decided on what to call their new venue.
“We thought about keeping the same name but thought calling it the Denman so far from the West End wouldn’t be right,” said Jamshedian. Instead, they are asking for suggestions via the Denman Cinemas’ Facebook page and offering some added enticement.
“Our deadline is the 26th of October and whoever comes up with a name we like, we’ll give them a year’s pass to come to the new location for free.”
The historic theatre, which first opened in 1939, was originally known as the Kingsway and then became the Haida Theatre from 1966 to 1991. It then was renamed the Raja Theatre and specialized in Bollywood imports until closing up shop in 2011.
Whatever the new name for the 400-seat theatre at 3215 Kingsway, the owners plan on doing some light renovations and have it ready for the Canadian premiere Nov. 20 of Bollywood legend Yash Chopra’s latest film, Jab Tak Hai Jaan.