Movie ticket prices and at-home streaming shift students’ media consumption

By: Elisabeth Kehler

Towne Cinema 8, a theatre three blocks away from RRC Polytech’s Exchange District Campus, closed its doors permanently, on Jan. 19, 2023.

The movie theatre previously closed for six months, but it was supposed to be temporary. Now, after 40 years of business, the property is up for sale.

Tavee Villamar, a first-year Digital Media Design student at RRC Polytech, said he went to Towne Cinema 8 as a kid but hasn’t had much interest in going since then. Villamar said he usually watches movies on Disney+.

“I’m not exactly surprised that it’s closed now,” Villamar said in an email.

There used to be several other movie theatres in Downtown Winnipeg. Towne Cinema 8 was the last holdout, except for Cinematheque off Old Market Square.

Towne Cinema 8 is owned by Landmark Cinemas, with has another theatre at Grant Park Shopping Centre. Villamar said if he did go to a theatre, he would prefer Grant Park’s location because it has reclining seats.

“It’s the closest thing to home,” he said.

Yara Ali, another RRC Polytech student, went to a theatre twice in 2022. She said she would go more often, but “the money is the problem.”

She planned on going to Towne Cinema 8 this month but did not know it was already closed.

Towne Cinema 8, on the corner of Notre Dame Avenue and Princess Street, permanently closed on Jan. 19, 2023. (Elisabeth Kehler)

Ali is in her second semester, taking six courses in the Applied Accounting program. She said she watched more shows and movies before starting school last year.

“This year is different because I’m so busy with my studying,” she said. 

When Ali has time, she said she watches YouTube videos and Netflix.

Reasons for Canadians not going to movie theatres as much are the cost of movie tickets, the preference for watching in the comforts of home, and the lack of interest in what’s showing in theatres compared to the vast options available at home, according to a report by Telefilm Canada.

But the theatre is not dead by all accounts.

Bir Makkar, an RRC Polytech Business Information Technology student from Punjab, India, regularly goes to Cinema City Northgate.

He said Scotiabank Theatre at CF Polo Park shows some Punjabi movies, but Cinema City Northgate is the main place for these movies.

Makkar said he uses Netflix often, but he prefers the theatre. He arrived in Winnipeg last year and hadn’t heard of Towne Cinema 8, but said he would have been interested in going.

“A cinema near school would be really fun and convenient for a two-hour break between the tiring studies,” he said in an email.