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'Near and dear to all filmmakers': Return of Regina's discount theatre bodes well for fans, movie makers alike

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The proprietors of Regina’s sole discount theatre are aware they’re carrying on a significant legacy.

Located at 3806 Albert Street in the Golden Mile Shopping Centre since 1998 – generations of moviegoers have passed through the doors of the former Rainbow Theatre – seeking a type of entertainment that can only found on the silver screen.

“It was really exciting to be able to take over this building. It has a big history. People really enjoy this place. They were sad when it closed down,” Moonlight Movies co-owner Jason Longworth told CTV News. “So when we were able to open it back up, people were excited about it.”

The closing credits rolled on the Rainbow in September of 2023. The dire situation was relieved by Moonlight Movies.

Known for operating its drive-in theatre in Pilot Butte, the new start-up was looking to expand just as the Rainbow was taking its last bow.

“We were more looking for just what happened to the equipment where they all went. We were looking to buy stuff and take over and then when we found this place, they actually had the facility and the equipment still here,” Longworth explained.

“When we kind of told them we had the experience and the knowledge of how to operate it all. That's where the talks got a little more serious.”

While the creation of “Moonlight Movie Cinemas” ensured that Regina didn’t lose its low cost theatre experience – it also meant that a cherished institution for filmmakers wasn’t lost to history.

“It's a place that is near and dear to all filmmaker’s hearts in Saskatchewan,” filmmaker Jason Truong told CTV News.

“It's a great location, best popcorn in the city. I may be biased, but that's my opinion,” he laughed.

Moonlight Movies hosted Truong and the rest of Character Flaw Productions for the debut of their film “Terms and Conditions” back in April.

The movie – which Truong describes as “Black Mirror, meets The Hangover, meets Four Rooms” – features an array of well-known performers including Kate Flannery (The Office), Mary Lynn Rajskub (Always Sunny in Philadelphia and 24), Jann Arden, Kenny Hotz (Kenny v Spenny) and Steve-O (Jackass).

“It revolves around these five different apps, five different adventures, and they all kind of join up and tell a story about how apps take control of our lives and comedy ensues based on what these apps do,” Truong explained.

According to Longworth – many local filmmakers have reached out – looking to get their work on the big screen.

“You can’t always pay the big fees to go to the big cinemas and we can be a little more reasonable and get them in there and work [out] deals with these guys and it's always cool to see their content on screen,” he said.

“Even a lot of the extras, right? There's usually a lot of people that are in the films that don't always get credit but they can come out and see themselves on the big screen. Where normally they'd have to watch it at home,” he added.

Truong has said his crew will be looking into distribution options for “Terms and Conditions” – adding that it’s an exciting time to be in the film business in Saskatchewan.

“When the tax credit got cut it was pretty barren, but because demand is there, we're starting to see kind of through the grapevine – projects appearing. With the screen appearing, big productions are coming down the pipe. So, it's just imminent,” he said.

“As a filmmaker, couldn't be more excited.”

As for the theatre itself, Longworth said that work continues on upgrades to the aging facility, as well as getting the word out that the cinema is open and ready for business.

“The biggest challenge we had was just getting the brand name back out there, letting people know we're open again,” he said. “Because you know, there were so many articles and people knew we were closed, but we had to get people aware that we're back up and running again.”

The upgrades are not just contained to Moonlight’s Golden Mile Location. According to Longworth, the company’s Pilot Butte Drive-in will now screen films on their first-run.

“We're putting some new equipment out there, upgrading it so we can do first run cinema and then as it trickles down out there, we can bring it in here and bring it in a second run as well,” he said.

For the future, Longworth said the team at Moonlight will be focusing on providing the best experience possible – for the lowest price.

His only advice to patrons: Come on out. Enjoy the show – and don’t forget to buy the popcorn.

“[You] don't have to break the bank when you come here but you still can create the memories that you created as a kid,” he said.

“Now you can create those with your families as well and kind of keep the tradition going.”

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