Drinks and a movie

A newly amended law will let adults kick back with a beer or a glass of wine in hand while watching a movie on the big screen.

The spectator’s licence, a special activities licence previously available for live theatre, sports and exhibitions, has now been amended to allow alcohol in movie theatres too.

Susan Harrison, communications coordinator from the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission (MLCC), said the amended law applies to movie theatre complexes with at least two theatres that have 75 permanent seats.

Harrison said no more than 50 per cent of licensed theatres will be permitted to serve alcohol under the amended liquor law.

Harrison said the intention is “not to take away movie theatres for families or people who don’t want to go where alcohol is served.”

Harrison also said there has not been backlash from independent companies or families.

“When the regulation change happened, it allowed for this new opportunity to come in with Cineplex being able to licence three theatres for a VIP experience,” Harrison said.

Criticism from commenters on the Winnipeg Free Press website stem from families worried about this new law ruining their movie experience.

But not all movie theatres can take advantage of the new law and many independent or smaller theatres are not included. Cineplex will maintain some alcohol free theatres.

This leaves other options available for families.

Kyle Moffatt, Cineplex’s communications director, confirmed that by summer 2012 Winnipeg will have its first movie theatre complex that serves alcoholic beverages, after the construction for their new building is complete.

The new complex will be redeveloped over the old Cinema City on Kenaston and McGillivray.

The building will include three upscale VIP theatres licensed to serve alcohol, and eight regular theatres not licensed to serve alcohol.

“VIP cinemas are a little smaller, it’s a little bit of a more intimate experience,” Moffatt said.

“ [Theatre employees] will come up and greet you and ask if they can take your food and beverage order.

“VIP cinemas will have a VIP lounge which is available only to guests who are 18 years of age or older,” Moffatt said.

This idea is common in the United States, but in Canada only a few theatres in select cities, such as Toronto, London and Oakville in Ontario and Coquitlam, B.C., serve alcohol.

Moffatt said they have not finalized the pricing for Winnipeg but in B.C. there is a seven dollar premium on top of the price for a regular ticket and $10 on top of a 3D movie.

There is a risk that people might abuse such opportunities.

“You can’t have people just getting obnoxiously drunk in movies, [ . . . ] like Toy Story 3 with a bunch of kids and families at the same time,” said Terry James Skrabek, a University 1 student.

“There has to be some kind of control to govern the drinking [ . . . ] there should be specific adult only theatres.

“It’s going to be obnoxious and expensive, but at least now people don’t have to sneak in booze,” said Skrabek.