Oct 22, 2009

Monarch Theatre Project - Medicine Hat

This is a great time to be a Hatter with the return of the Monarch Theatre.
Growing up in a small city like Medicine Hat, Alberta there's a certain sense of pride you feel when your community takes a step in a direction that you feel is long overdue. When I was a kid, and even as recent as my first few years of university (coming home in the summer), I remember going to the Monarch theatre downtown.

It was always the 'old' theatre to anyone my age, with a single screen and those seats that reclined on a spring. The entire theatre sloped on a smooth curve to the front so you'd occasionally hear change or candy make it's way all the way down from the back row. The theatre was opened in 1911 and was renovated in the Art Deco style in the 1930s. In some ways, going to the Monarch movie theatre was an experience in itself.

When the Cineplex opened up at the mall it was really only a matter of time before we lost both old theatres downtown. There's an element of romance when thinking about both the Monarch and Towne theatres because of the memories so many had there, although the reality is that they were both past their prime. Their age was showing and although our Cineplex wasn't really that much to brag about, by comparison it was a significant upgrade. Both downtown movie theatres closed several years later.

The surprising part of this story is that the Monarch theatre was purchased by the city last year and has since undergone renovation to reopen in just a matter of days. This isn't just going to be another movie theatre though. As host to local events like the Medicine Hat Film Festival, the theatre will also be running on a regular basis to play classic, art, and independent films on the big screen. 

The grand (re)opening is taking place on October 24, with a feature screening of Casablanca. Other upcoming films include Vertigo and the Rocky Horror Picture Show just in time for Halloween. I've always felt that there should be more theatres like this that give people a chance to see classic movies as they were meant to be seen. I've got my fingers crossed for movies like E.T. and Indiana Jones.

For a small city like Medicine Hat, the Monarch theatre is made even more special because of its cultural relevance and focus. For those locals who are likely to come across this post, I encourage you to take full advantage of this great addition to our city. It's great to see the Monarch come back stronger than ever and provide a forum for classic and independent cinema. I can't wait to see the results of all the hard work for myself.

Visit the official site for the Monarch Theatre here

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