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Paramount Theatre in downtown Kelowna closing this spring

Kelowna
Kelowna's downtown Paramount Theatre will close its doors as a movie theatre this spring.
— image credit: Kevin Parnell

The credits are set to roll on a historic Kelowna landmark.

The Paramount Theatre on Bernard Avenue will shutter its doors and stop showing films this spring.

"We were served notice by the landlord that our lease will be terminated by the end of May," said Bill Walker, the Chief Operating Officer for Landmark Cinemas Canada.

"We weren't overly resistant to that—we knew it was a possibility that the landlord wanted to redevelop the property and we wish them well in their redevelopment plan."

Walker said the transition would be eased, on their side, by the fact there are two other theatres remaining in this community. Some of the employees of the downtown theatre will be absorbed into those operations.

Although Walker couldn't offer insight into what new direction the landlord was expected to go in, he did say out it's not unheard of for downtown theatres to be repurposed

"The economics of movie-going has changed over time," said Walker. "Certainly the convenience of free parking and new technological experiences are changing the industry and moving it into a new direction."

There are historic theatres in other cities, however, undergoing a renaissance  of sorts.

"Every city and town has its own nuances and that determines how viable downtown locations are," he said, noting that Landmark has 46 theatres across Canada, some of which are heritage sites that are being refurbished rather than retired.

Although the movie-going element of the Paramount theatre will soon come to an end sometime before May, some things will remain the same.

City of Kelowna planner Ryan Smith said that regardless of what was happening within the theatre, the Paramount marquee that has been a permanent fixture on downtown Kelowna's landscape will will remain due to its historical significance.

More information on what the building owner intends to do with the space should be before city council in the weeks ahead.

According to a website detailing the history of B.C. theatres - cinemantreasures.org - the Paramount has been in operation as a theatre on Bernard Avenue for nearly 67 years.

It opened on June 16, 1949 with a seating capacity for 839 and has since been triplexed.

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