Ridge Theatre

3131 Arbutus Street,
Vancouver, BC V6J 3Z3

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Famous Players, Festival Cinemas - Canada

Architects: Harold Solomon Kaplan, Abraham Sprachman

Firms: Kaplan & Sprachman

Styles: Streamline Moderne

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News About This Theater

Ridge Theatre

The Ridge Theatre opened on April 13, 1949 with Laurence Olivier in “Henry V”. It had 844 seats. The Ridge Theatre was renovated in 1980, and with a reduced seating capacity of 480, operated until closing on February 3, 2013. It was demolished in October 2013.

Contributed by Chad Irish

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

Jason Vanderhill
Jason Vanderhill on March 30, 2006 at 8:25 pm

The website should be updated to www.festivalcinemas.ca as www.ridgetheatre.com is now officially closed. The previous management was forced out rather abruptly and new management took over in late December of 2005. The owners of the property installed cushy seats with higher backs and big cup holders, and they are now playing more modern films in rotation with the other theatres in the Festival Cinemas network. Purists may not like the new seats, but honestly, having more legroom and an aisle along the wall is hard to knock.

To it’s credit, the Ridge hasn’t gone completely mainstream. They do play favourites from Sundance and other festivals around the world among a few modern selections, but their calendar doesn’t change as often with each film showing for a longer period of time. Some of the Ridge’s former diet of classic cinema & offbeat films have moved to the excellent new International Film Centre (or Vancity Theatre).

Located downtown Vancouver, http://www.vifc.org, the Vancity Theatre is also not far from the Pacific Cinematheque http://www.cinematheque.bc.ca Both of these specialty theatres are well-run but notably smaller and lacking the heritage architecture.

Here is the letter that the previous owners posted late last November:

“The management and staff of the Ridge are truly heartbroken to announce that in late December of this year the theatre will be undergoing a change in ownership. Lease negotiations between the Ridge and the property owners began this summer in an attempt to deal with a substantial increase in operating expenses, largely tied to a 16% increase in property taxes, but these talks were unfortunately unsuccessful.

When it opened its doors in April 1950, the Ridge Theatre was hailed as “A miracle of modern architecture and construction” boasting the latest in projection equipment and creature comforts. In the late 1970s the Ridge became a repertory or “second run” theatre, a role that continues to this day. Although the baton has been lovingly passed from hand to hand over the years, those of us behind the scenes at the Ridge have always made it our priority to provide Vancouver’s theatre goers with the best all-around moviegoing experience, a mission we regret deeply that we will no longer be able to fulfill. It’s no understatement that for many of us here, life will not be the same.

The Ridge was recently named “Best Second-Run Theatre” by the readers of the Georgia Straight, a fitting, if somewhat sad, honour under the circumstances. That said, what better way to part company than with the support of the
community we have always cherished and striven to serve.

Our last screening will be long time Ridge favourite the World’s Best Commercials on December 23, after which we’ll say good-bye and thank you, Vancouver.

Thanks for your support & interest over the years…

…the staff & management of the Ridge Theatre."

Jason Vanderhill
Jason Vanderhill on March 13, 2012 at 5:48 pm

The Ridge Theatre, again making the news.

Ridge Theatre faces final curtain
by Ian Bailey
VANCOUVER— From Tuesday’s Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Mar. 12, 2012 9:36PM EDT

“After more than 60 years of operation, the Ridge Theatre – birthplace of the Vancouver International Film Festival – will see its final credits roll within a year.

The 500-seat Arbutus Street cinema, a rare one-screen operation in a multiplex era, will fall victim to a massive redevelopment that will replace the cinema and other businesses in its strip-mall location with a retail complex topped by five storeys of condos…"


rl_83 on January 15, 2013 at 7:41 pm

The Ridge is set to close February 3rd, 2013.

ScreenClassic on February 16, 2013 at 9:48 pm

According to the Festival Cinemas website, the Ridge is now closed, so its status here should be set to Closed.

DavidDymond on February 17, 2013 at 9:09 am

The Ridge Theatre was built by independent theatre operators who later became operating partners with the Famous Players Canadian Corporation — it was listed as owned by the Vancouver Ridge Pool!

ScreenClassic on August 30, 2014 at 4:05 am

Status should now be set to Demolished. Here’s a link to a photo of the demolition of the Ridge taken last October:

Ridge Theatre demolition

Coate on March 17, 2015 at 10:01 am

“The Sound of Music” premiered at the Ridge 50 years ago today. With a reserved-seat run of 99 weeks, do you think it is the long-run record holder for this venue?

Also, on a related note, I would like to mention my new 50th anniversary retrospective for “The Sound of Music” can be read here.

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