If the pandemic has been forced to close its cinema in Chandler in mid-march, the owner of the ciné-parc Paradiso, Rodrigue Loonie, could have a nice surprise this summer.
May 29, 2020 19h01
Updated at 22h16
Big summer in preparation for the ciné-parc Paradiso Grande-Rivière
Initiative of journalism-local – The Sun
Of the film 35 mm in the laser projector, the cine-parc Paradiso Grande-Rivière has been witness to hundreds, if not thousands of movies. It is now part of the handful of facilities of its type still in operation in Quebec, and could well see the COVID-19 offer him one of the seasons busiest in its history.
The ciné-parc Paradiso has screened its first movie on June 17, 1977, remembers well Louis Roy, the owner of the time. Two months later, Elvis would die. As soon as the announcement of the death of the idol, Mr Roy has called his distributor in Montreal to ask him if he still had a few cassette tapes of Elvis on Tour. A few days later, the King filled the 400 seats of the terrain vague, and worth $ 3 per car. “Three nights in a row, we were obliged to refuse cars,” says Mr Roy.
“The beautiful years, it was between 1976 and 1985. After that, everyone started to close one after the other,” said Mr. Roy. According to him, the arrival of the VHS tapes will lose a lot to the open-air cinemas. “People have walked away from drive-ins to cassettes and video clubs,” says the former owner. Due to a customer who was less at the appointment, the owner has put the key under the door in the summer of 2000. The land and facilities were sold a few years later.
After a half-dozen years of inactivity, the Paradiso has officially reopened its doors in 2006. Two years ago, Rodrigue Loonie, an electrician by training, had taken over the reins of the company, which also had the two theaters of Cinema Paradiso Chandler. “I have always been passionate about cinema, even more drive-ins”, he says. A few years later, in 2013, he had to make a difficult decision while the productions were not available any more in films, 35 millimeters. “We closed until 2018, when it has managed to change to a projector with a laser, says Mr. Huard. Now, you may be a cine-park, our image is more beautiful than that of the majority of cinemas!” lance-t-il, visibly proud.
Since its reopening in 2018, the open-air cinema continues to increase its turnover, and the season 2020 should not be an exception. “I was really confident for the upcoming summer, because in 2019, we had two times more visitors than the summer before. I am convinced that, even without the virus, it would have been impressive”, says Rodrigue Loonie.
The pandemic has forced it to close its cinema in Chandler in mid-march. The COVID, however, could reserve a great surprise to the owner who is often told that the drive-ins, it was “finished”. “People are so looking forward to going back to “normal”, and it is a little of what we can offer them,” says Mr. Huard.
A risky bet
While outdoor cinemas seem to be, again, the flavor of the day since the beginning of the pandemic, particularly with the announcement of Régis Labeaume, who wants to open three drive-ins on the territory of the city of Quebec, Rodrigue Loonie is quite perplexed. According to him, the bet is very risky, particularly because the facilities can be very expensive. “It’s a big investment to open a drive-in park. Just the projector that is at least $ 100,000, and there is no guarantee that the drive-ins will continue to work after the COVID, when everything will be back to normal”, lance-t-il.
The ciné-parc Paradiso is expected to open for the summer season on June 5.