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Photograph: Flickr/Raj Taneja

The 8 best cinemas in Vancouver

They don't call it Hollywood North without reason. Check out the best cinemas in Vancouver for a movie night to remember

Written by
Mikaela Luke
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Vancouver has long been fertile ground for movie shots, earning it the nickname ‘Hollywood North’ in the process. It hasn’t exactly been the best couple of years for shooting movies and loading up on popcorn, but the best cinemas in Vancouver are opening doors for film fanatics once again. The cinema scene here covers everything from independent non-profits to multiplexes in shopping complexes, a real ‘something for everyone’ environment that focuses on the action on the screen. That’s how it should be, right? Double up a movie night with a romantic meal at an Italian restaurant after a day of exploring the parks of the city, and you’ve got yourself a date to remember in beautiful Vancouver. 

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Best cinemas in Vancouver

One of Vancouver’s coolest cinemas doubles as the year-round office for the Vancouver International Film Festival and its archive of classic, foreign, and indie films. A one-screen venue with 169 red plush seats, this is the theatre for expert and amateur film buffs to sit back and watch a screening—prefaced by an in-person intro from one of their knowledgeable staff—or attend a talk or industry event. Provincial regulations mean they have to charge membership as a nonprofit society screening non-classified films.

Dunbar Theatre is a classic neighbourhood spot with the best popcorn in the city. Impossible to miss with its vertical block letter signs, this independent cinema shows an impressive number of first-run blockbusters. 

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Located on the outskirts of Yaletown, this neighbourhood indie theatre is well-loved by locals and well cared for by the local film society that runs it. Lean back in their comfy reclining seats and take in cinematic art outside of the mainstream blockbusters, from new Canadian films to a film noir series. Check out their program guide here.

Fifth Ave Cinemas

This adult-only cinema is equipped with a full bar and shows all the Hollywood and independent films you could ask for. All the seats are comfy and reclining—perfect for leaning back with a glass of wine while you watch the latest flick.

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Nestled within the huge Riverport entertainment plaza in Richmond, this is the movie theatre that every parent across the Lower Mainland has bookmarked. It’s right on Entertainment Boulevard (no surprise there) and is neighbours with an indoor waterpark, play gym, a 5-and-10-pin bowling alley, ice rink and trampoline park. Next time you drop the little ones off at a birthday party, duck into this cinema and treat yourself to an IMAX. Better yet — seek out the D-BOX seats for a full-motion sensory experience.

Located on the busy corner of Broadway and Commercial, Rio Theatre offers all kinds of shows, including live entertainment and late-night movie screenings. Its movies cater to sci-fi, fantasy, thriller, cult and horror audiences, so be prepared to geek out and freak out. The cinema also streams live events like the Oscars, the Grammys, and even Barack Obama’s inauguration speech in 2008. 

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If you drive out to Langley, you’ll find the only drive-in theatre in Metro Vancouver. Open seven nights a week (with special discounts or per-vehicle deals on Tuesdays and Thursdays), a ticket into this classic theatre experience lets you stay for all the movie screenings that night. Buy some snacks, put your feet up on the dash and enjoy the evening. 

Temporarily closed

You might not associate Science World with catching a movie, but the top of the museum's iconic dome offers a five-story-high cinematic experience. Here lies the largest OMNIMAX dome screen in the world, spanning a full 27 meters in diameter and providing an all-around immersive experience. Catch a documentary from their programming, or go early to an After Dark adults night and surprise yourself with a film.

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