Film.ca: Oakville’s Independent Cinema is Rejuvenated

Tickets remain at $8.50 for adults, $6.50 for Children and Seniors, and free for children under 3.

Exterior of Film.ca at Twilight
Film.ca: Oakville’s Independent Cinema is Rejuvenated
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Nolan A Machan

Nolan A Machan

Nolan Machan is the Publisher of OakvilleNews.Org and has over 41 years of local Oakville knowledge. He is committed to providing Oakville residents with the most up-to-date information about our great town.

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Not many movie theatres get to claim the same sort of cinematic story for itself that Oakville’s Film.ca Cinemas does. But the cinema’s CEO wants guests to know that the story isn’t over, until you and your friends join the party. With state of the art digital projectors , brand new comfortable seats with plenty of leg room, fresh popcorn, a new expresso machine, and blockbuster new release movies at $8.50, why would you go anywhere else to see a movie. 

The enthusiastic response to founder and CEO Jeff Knoll’s call to save the 17-year-old company during October 2013 is well-known in town. “I called my general manager in and said that we were going to close by the end of the week,” he said, noticeably emotional as he described that difficult time. “We couldn’t afford the forced changeover to digital cinema projection at $50,000 a screen and we have five. But then the idea hit me to put out a final message asking for help, inspired by my favourite movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”.”

Interior of Theatre, Film.ca

State of the art digital projectors and comfortable seating in all 5 theatres. Photo Credit: Film.ca

Within 48 hours of Knoll’s message, $50,000 was raised in loans and donations ranging from pocket change to cheques for thousands. By mid-November, the cinema had found its major investor – or, in Wonderful Life terms, its Sam Wainwright – David Jenkins, a regular guest with a young family in West Oak Trails. Knoll and Jenkins quickly began plans to convert to full-digital projection, which occurred on February 5th, 2014.

That strong emotional connection to the Oakville community has fuelled Film.ca’s renaissance over the last year. Beyond the updated name, new technology, improved seating, and major renovations, the cinema has a local flair not found at the multiplexes.

It commonly runs local film series such as Halton Green Screens and student films from Sheridan College. Hundreds of charitable groups have used the theatre facilities, and its revenue sharing program, to raise funds, including the Oakville Hospital Foundation in January and February. It’s not uncommon to see local performers and groups in the cinema’s lobby. And the cinema regularly holds morning screenings of films for school field trips and groups for people with special needs, alongside its daily matinees.

Though business is on an upswing, the local cinema still falls far behind the multiplexes on the edge of town in attendance. Add that to the fact that the entire cinema industry’s revenues took a huge hit in 2014 and the costs of renovations, and Film.ca Cinemas needs to rally its supporters now more than ever.

“Many people in town either don’t realize we are here, or have a perception of us that is not accurate anymore,” he said. “We premiere first-run films the same day as everyone else; we have brand new projection systems, and we’ve spent a year doing badly-needed renovations. But we still have trouble breaking out of that old, run-down image. We are now just as viable a choice as Cineplex, but we don’t have their millions in marketing money.”

Fresh Popcorn

Fresh popcorn is all Film.ca serves at great prices. Photo Credit: Film.ca

“Our regulars love us, which we got to see in a big way in 2013, and every day now we see new guests who keep coming back. But now we need action. We need everyone who said they couldn’t imagine the town without us then to be our advocates to their friends and neighbours now.”

An underdog triumphing over the odds is one of the most enduring themes in film. With Film.ca Cinemas, Oakville has its own David-and-Goliath story.

“The town has come through for us before,” said Knoll. “We are hopeful that with Oakville’s support, we will have our own feel good Hollywood ending, and we’d love everyone to be able to say they were part of that.”

So if you are a regular, tell a friend or neighbour about Film.ca. There are so many new families who move in to Oakville, and think they have to go to one of the big chains to see a movie. They don’t have to walk a kilometer to park. Help them have a great time locally, spread the word, and you’ll help keep the town atmosphere of Oakville strong.

Film.ca is located at 171 Speers Road just west of Kerr Street.


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