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Reopening Duncan's movie theatre won't be quick, says previous operator

The theatre’s projection and sound equipment was removed by the former operator, who says no one has approached him about acquiring it
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The Caprice Theatre in Duncan, which opened in 1982, closed on short notice last month. GOOGLE STREET VIEW

The owners of the building housing Duncan’s only movie theatre announced this week it could soon reopen, but its most recent operator says that’s unlikely, since he’s removed the theatre’s projection and sound equipment.

The Duncan Caprice Theatre closed on short notice last month. Operator Hollywood 3 Cinemas cited high rents that have become unsustainable since the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, a representative of building owner DJRD Entertainment Ltd. said they plan on reopening the cinema under new management. They also pushed back on the notion of high rents, saying that there hasn’t been an increase in rent since 2019.

“Moby Amarsi and the tenant company DCG Investment Inc. have suggested that they were forced to leave the theatre because of rent increases, which is untrue,” said the statement issued by Hong Kong-based lawyer Shane Weir.

Moby Amarsi, owner of Hollywood 3 Cinemas, said the last lease agreement — which would be retroactive to 2019 — was signed in January of 2020, just before the cinema would close for almost two and a half years.

Business has not rebounded enough to pay for the 300 per cent rent increase that was negotiated in the most recent lease, he said.

Hollywood 3 Cinemas took its equipment when it closed shop last month, Amarsi said.

The Caprice Theatre was upgraded to digital projection when Hollywood 3 took over operations in 2014, Amarsi said. “Our sound system was custom-designed.”

But no prospective operators have entered into talks with him to acquire the equipment, he said Friday.

“It would make sense to get in touch with me because I have the equipment,” Amarsi said. “This is not a turnkey operation.”

Amarsi said he supports the continuation of Duncan’s last movie theatre, whoever operates it.

“I will give them all the assistance I can,” Amarsi said. “I really want to see that legacy continue.”

The Caprice theatres in Duncan and Nanaimo were built in the 1980s.

The Nanaimo Caprice was converted to a live venue in 2012 and now operates as the Nanaimo Entertainment Centre.

The Duncan Caprice has been operating as a cinema since 1982.

In 1989, the Duncan theatre was run by Caprice Entertainment Ltd. under its then-president Terry Weir, according to a Times Colonist report from that time.

The company says it remains family-owned. The latest DJRD Entertainment Ltd company report at the B.C. Registry office lists Christopher Weir of Nanaimo as company director.

mjlo@timescolonist.com