The screens at Kelowna’s Paramount theatre faded to black this week, marking the end of a 67 year run.
The last films played Monday night and, for those in attendance, it was a somewhat somber occasion.
“Most people were there —especially the ones who chose the black and white film— to acknowledge a loss in the community,” said Ryan Donn, a Kelowna city councillor and longtime community arts booster.
The location, he said, is where many had their first date or first theatre experience and for them it was a “sad and nostalgic” experience, leading to reminiscing and last-minute photo-ops, for posterity sake.
While closing a chapter always strikes an emotional chord, many have moved on to raising questions about what will happen to the space next.
Doug Porozni, president of Ronmor developments, the Calgary based company that bought the theatre two years ago, said even he’s unsure of what will happen.
The company is currently in negotiations with potential occupants, he said Tuesday, and will have a clearer idea of what will happen in the space in the next few weeks.
In a previous interview, he said that the company wanted to retain as much of the building’s character as possible.
“Initially we were going to demolish it and build a mixed use project there, but we’ve realized we should keep the bones of the building the best we can, including the sign out front,” he said, of the 14,000 square foot property that’s now being referred to in Ronmor advertising as Paramount Court.
The aesthetics, said Coun. Donn, is something he’s believes will be important to the community.
What takes up residence in the days to come, however, may be of more relevance.
“If we had been thinking about this ahead of time, could (the city) have bought it for the large community theatre we’re talking about for 2030?” he said.
“We know there is a gap in the community.”
That ship has seemingly sailed, but there is still a demand to offer something unique on the waterfront, and Donn said he hopes that whoever is making the decisions on what’s to come is listening to the community.
“I think if you step back you can see we are a culturally vibrant space,” said Donn, listing the Pianos in the Park program, the Innovation Centre and Hotel Zed as a couple examples of this community attracting unique and different concepts and seeing them succeed.
“Let’s hope something unique and trendy (happens there).”
The theatre ended its run, appropriately enough with films from 1949, the year it opened.
Filmgoers taking in the Paramount’s last movies on the weekend were charged just $3 to see Abbott and Costello’s comedy Africa Screams and Orson Welles’ thriller The Third Man. One dollar from each admission went to the support the Kids Help Phone line.