The Rio Theatre – A Hidden Gem in East Vancouver

Located in the eclectic neighbourhood of Vogue Theatre in East Vancouver, the Rio Theatre is a unique independent theatre that screens an array of exciting films all year round. Despite its unassuming exterior, the Rio Theatre offers a fun and memorable movie-going experience for both local residents and visitors to Vancouver. Here are some of the most interesting points about this hidden gem of a theatre.

Unique Atmosphere

Walking into the Rio Theatre, you feel as if you’ve entered another world. With its bright orange walls, minimalist interior design, and indie/alternative vibe, the atmosphere is quite unlike any multiplex theatre. Shows play on a large screen at the front, with a mix of mismatched seats facing it. There is a small concession stand selling locally roasted coffee, craft beer, and snacks. During showings, the lights are dimmed low to heighten the cinematic experience. It’s a very chill and intimate setting to watch a great film.

Eclectic Film Selection

What sets the Rio apart is its curated selection of films you simply won’t find playing elsewhere. Along with indie flicks and art house favorites, they screen revivals of cult classics, documentaries, foreign films, LGBTQ films, and themed festivals all year long. From midnight movies to week-long retrospectives, there is always something new, obscure, or thought-provoking on offer. Recent highlights included a David Lynch marathon and a sci-fi invasion film series. Patrons love discovering hidden gems and experiencing movies in a lively, passionate crowd.

Community Focus

As a non-profit organization run by volunteers, the Rio Theatre is deeply community-oriented. They host open-mic nights, movie-related talks, live music, and special events to bring people together. Local artists are also supported through exhibitions in the lounge area. All proceeds from screenings and concessions go towards maintaining the theatre and expanding their programming. It’s very much a grassroots operation where film buffs can help sustain an inclusive, arthouse cinema in their city.

Historic Architectural Features

Built in 1937, the Rio Theatre retains some wonderful original architectural details of art deco and modern styles. Intricate plaster work adorns the high ceilings, green tiles line the upper walls, and copper-accented front doors make a bold statement. The projection booth upstairs has classic analog 35mm and 16mm projectors still in use. Wandering the back hallways between shows, you get a sense of the theatre’s storied past. Though updated with amenities, the Rio has maintained its historic charm through the decades.

Value and Unique Venue Rentals

Considering the diversity of films shown, tickets at the Rio Theatre offer incredible value, priced similarly to mainstream theatres. Numerous special discounts are also available. Additionally, individuals and groups can rent the entire 161-seat theatre for private screenings, fundraisers, talks, music gigs, and more. This customizable rental space doubles as a one-of-a-kind venue perfect for unique events. Both locals seeking affordable entertainment and visitors exploring Vancouver regularly find value at this treasured neighborhood theatre.

The Rio Theatre is a multi-media venue located in East Vancouver at 1660 East Broadway, near Commercial Drive. Known for its diverse range of programming, the Rio Theatre operates as a movie house that regularly screens both new and classic movies, as well as a venue that hosts live performances such as concerts, comedy shows, and burlesque and cabaret performances.

Here are some key points:

  • History: The Rio Theatre was built in 1938 and has been a landmark in Vancouver’s East Side for decades. It was initially a movie theatre, and over the years, it evolved to accommodate a variety of performances.
  • Facilities: The venue has a full stage and a large screen for films, a licensed bar, and seating for over 400 people.
  • Programming: The Rio is known for its eclectic mix of programming. It screens a variety of films, from new releases to cult classics, often themed with special events. The live performance schedule is equally diverse, including comedy shows, live podcast recordings, and concerts.
  • Advocacy: The theatre has been involved in several advocacy campaigns related to cinema and performance spaces in Vancouver. In 2012, it successfully campaigned to change licensing laws to allow movie theatres to serve alcohol. In 2018, the theatre was under threat of being sold and potentially demolished, but a successful crowdfunding campaign helped the owner purchase the property.

For current programming and ticket information, it’s best to visit the Rio Theatre’s official website ↗.

In summary, the Rio Theatre in East Vancouver is well worth discovering for its atmospheric experience, curated programming of obscure films, emphasis on community, preserved artistic architecture, and affordable value. Even after over 80 years of operation, this independent theatre continues to surprise and delight movie lovers with its eclectic offerings in a cozy, intimate setting. It remains a true hidden gem that any cinephile would appreciate.

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