Vancouver’s Hollywood Theatre has been a beloved landmark of West Broadway since it first opened in 1935. In 2011, after 75 consecutive years as a family-owned neighbourhood movie house, it was sold. When news later broke that it was set to be gutted and replaced with a fitness centre, the reaction from the community was swift and forceful. A diverse group of local residents came together to protect the theatre as a community and cultural space.
Today, with its familiar neon sign removed for storage and its windows boarded up, the theatre is a grim sight to behold. But it can safely be said that reports of its death are exaggerated, though perhaps not greatly. It’s true that its future remains uncertain. But discussions continue behind the scenes to put into action a viable plan for the Hollywood that would be a win for its owner, for the neighbourhood, and for the city at large.
Any such plan – involving the cooperation of government, community and private owners – is a complex puzzle, but one that must be solved. We know that Vancouverites want the best future for the Hollywood, as a cultural and community hub that enlivens and energizes the neighbourhood, where social bonds are forged and treasured memories continue to be created. With the political will, continued pressure from the community, and support of local businesses, we remain hopeful that the future of the Hollywood Theatre remains bright.