Best Movie Theatre in Vancouver? You make the call!

Movie Popcorn

Even in the age of Netflix and instant streaming downloads, movie theatres still pack in the crowds.  There’s just something about the experience of sitting in a room with a few hundred people, watching the lights go down and the huge screen come to life.

But which Vancouver movie theatre is the best?  Does the prize go to Tinseltown? Scotiabank? The musty old Granville 7Fifth Avenue?  The artsy Vancity?  Or somewhere else?  Not an easy question.  So I’d like to ask you:

Do you have a favourite Vancouver movie theatre?  Share your feedback by leaving a comment below.

But first, a few things to consider.  First of all, what makes a great theatre?

Is it the size of the screen and the quality of the sound system?  Is stadium-style seating, with big cupholders and movable armrests the key?

Or is it more about what’s on the screen – whether a theatre sticks with the predictable Hollywood blockbusters or ventures into alternative and art house fare?

Then, of course, there’s the popcorn factor.  What are the concessions at the theatre like?  Fresh, varied and reasonably priced?  Or just stale old popcorn at $5 a bag?

And, finally, there’s the undefinable je ne sais quoi that distinguishes a merely good theatre from a great one.  It could be a long and storied history; or an especially friendly and knowledgeable staff; or meticulously clean floors that are never sticky or caked with old popcorn and jujubes.

At Scotiabank Theatre now, watching Avatar in 1 hr. But lot people.

To get things rolling, I’d like to give a mention to Scotiabank Theatre on Burrard Street – possibly not the best theatre in the city, but definitely in the top five.  Where Scotiabank really excells, in my book, is in the audio and visual department.  Screens are massive.  Sound is booming.  The stadium-style seats ensure there’s not a bad seat in the house (well, unless you’re stuck in one of those front rows).

Plus, there’s a Burger King and Pizza Pizza right in the theatre – so instead of having to settle for some soggy old movie nachos, you can actually have a Whopper or a (relatively) fresh slice.

As with any theatre, there are some drawbacks.  Parking downtown is hard to find and expensive.  Concessions inside are pretty pricey.  And, as is to be expected, Scotiabank tends to stick with the safe, Hollywood blockbusters – not much edgy stuff on offer.

But that’s just one opinion.

If you’ve got a favourite theatre, please leave a comment below.


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11 Responses to Best Movie Theatre in Vancouver? You make the call!

  1. It’s all about the Rio. There’s a true movie-lover audience that goes there, the setting is super old-school, and they have REAL butter on the popcorn! Plus, Tuesdays is half off admission. Oh, and their double-billing midnight shows. Great theatre!

  2. Nothing like escaping the summer heat in an airconditioned theatre!

    While Silvercity at Metropolis at Metrotown combines shopping with entertainment, Burnaby has a couple other movie options.

    Dolphin Cinema on Hastings Street is a great alternative to the monster movie-plexes and they have dedicated dates for Movies for Mommies (matinees where infants are welcome).

    My personal favourite is the theatre at Station Square, another quiet movie theatre easily accessible by Metropolis at Metrotown. If you catch an early enough movie, sometimes you can sit far enough away from anyone else that you can whisper and giggle throughout the movie without bothering anyone.

  3. Reeza

    Twilight Drive In in Langley is far, but a great experience and great value for your money.

    3 movies for 12.50…if you have an SUV you can lay down in the back and lift up the back door and enjoy.

    The concession is fairly priced and the popcorn is really good!

    Great for families or just for nostalgia.

    • Wow – I didn’t realize there was a drive-in theatre in the Lower Mainland. Thanks for the tip, Reeza.

  4. Alli

    My favourite theatre is 5th Avenue because I love the selection of independent and limited releases. They also have REAL butter on their popcorn (which seems to be a determining factor of theatre quality haha) and frozen yogurt, for less guilty theatre indulgences! Easy to find free street parking is a huge bonus! Plus they offer discounted student rates!

  5. The Clova out in Cloverdale. Art deco exterior, nice wide theatre inside. Incredibly friendly, reasonably priced double bills (of recent films) and great pricing on the popcorn and drinks (and they’re insanely cheap if you bring your own containers). All around a class act!

    • Sarah

      This place is great! Especially the little old lady who tells a joke at the start of the film and the family dog that runs around!

  6. There aren’t very many movies for which you need overwhelming sound systems and all the bells and whistles. For the occasional blockbuster, absolutely, but for most films, I like a film buff’s atmosphere more than technology.

    Here’s my list:

    Tinseltown has the best seats and sightlines. The Cinematheque is intimate and eclectic. The Rio gives the best all-round movie-lover’s experience. The Vancity is plush, comfortable and almost as intimate as the Cinematheque. The Dolphin reminds me of University days (as does Royal Centre – anyone remember that?). Fifth Avenue has a great list of not-so-mainstream stuff and retains an indie atmosphere. I also agree with Reeza, the Twilight Drive-In is worth the trip into the Valley. Nothing like an outdoor movie on a warm summer’s night.

    I also love the Ridge and the Park and lament the passing of the Hollywood and Van East.

    • Thanks, Teresa. I always walk by the Vancity, but I’ve never seen a movie there. Can’t wait to check it out.

  7. While Scotiabank theatre is fantastic for the hi-def 3d epics that grace the big screen…the true cinema experience is at the Rio just off Commercial and Broadway

  8. Loyal readers are difficult to come by, but u have just converted me! Smile

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