3D, 7.1 Surround Sound, Arts, Date Night, Digital, Film, Gull Lake, Gull Lake Advance, Lyceum Theatre, Movie theater, Movie Theatre Cooperative, Movies, popcorn, Richard Gere, Theaters, Theatre, Trans Canada Highway
We all know that when communities bond together they can do almost anything they set their minds to – including, it would seem, build and run a movie theatre.
In the mid 70’s, when the community of Gull Lake’s original movie theatre burnt down, the smart folks there recognized that no one should ever have to live without Richard Gere and banded together to rebuild. Forming the Gull Lake and District Cultural Community Cooperative they pooled their skills and their resources and built the Lyceum Theatre which officially opened on March 30th, 1978.
Knowing that the town’s actual blood, sweat and tears were poured into the creation of this theatre, and that’s it’s lasted under the cooperative this long, makes it special enough – but knowing that they now have a new $100,000 state-of-the-art Digital system in play, blows the Lyceum out of the water in terms of awesomeness.
Given a tour by the Theatre’s new manager Belinda Yorke (who took over from long-time manager Walter LeBarge), she showed me how their old antiquated reel system required miles and miles of film, and also needed someone available to cut and splice the pieces of the movie together from the opening previews, to the final credits. Add in having to physically change the lenses depending on the type of movie being shown, and having to try and lift the cumbersome reels off the machine, it was a measure of progress whose time had come.
Having donated their old projector to the Gull Lake Museum, today all they have to do to play a movie is grab the hard drive, place it in the projector, download a key from the USB drive to unlock the paid-for movies, use the onboard computer to fill in the details of what type of movie it is (2D or 3D), add in the scheduled time they want it to play and voila – high definition movies that play, not on a boring old white screen, but on a perforated silver screen that allows for the 3D effect. Even the sound system has been revamped, with a 7.1 Surround Sound system, one of only two such systems throughout the southwest.
But that’s not all it’s got going for it: To start with the theatre portion of the building itself is HUGE, something you would never be able to deduce just looking at the indiscriminate little theatre from the street, so you’ve got plenty of space to spread out. Secondly, they’ve also got the best darn popcorn on the planet (and I should know considering I’m a Popcorn-aholic). I’m not sure if it’s the premium brand of popcorn they buy, or if somehow the canola-based topping they use turns to liquid gold once melted, but it’s really, really good. Third (and this is a big one), it’s cheaper than any other first-run new release movie theatre you’ll ever go to, because as a co-op they’ve agreed that raising prices just to put profit in their pockets is not their goal – offering a place for the community to gather, and making it affordable for everyone – that’s their goal.
While my first movie in the Lyceum, wasn’t exactly an epic classic big boom type that could take full advantage of all the new system had to offer, it was still one of the best movie experiences I’ve had in a long time, and now that I’ve gotten my fee wet, I can’t wait to head back to soon to see one of those big epic boom movies.
How to GoHere: Travel down the Trans Canada to the Junction of Hwy 37 and drive into Gull Lake – you’ll find it right on Main Street. You can also find it by map here
Good to Know:
- They don’t have debit – so make sure to bring cash, but if you don’t (as we didn’t) no worries there’s an ATM nearby.
- Make sure to also bring twoonies for the pop machine which thankfully also happens to be Coke-based (yet another plus in their favour).
- All of the old machinery from the Theatre was donated to the Gull Lake Museum.
- For those who want to take some popcorn home for their home movie night $2 will get you a big bag.
- When going to a movie in a small town, the speed at which you can arrive there, the short lines ups and the quick return home, while for some in the big city might seem like a great problem to have, it never really feels like a “date” night to me. Having to make the 30 min drive to Gull Lake from Swift Current, gave us a chance to talk both before and after the movie, and made it seem more like a bonified night out.
- For those who think the cost of gas to Gull Lake undermines the cheap aspect, considering that Gull Lake is 54 km from Swift, even in our fuel guzzling diesel truck, it’s less than $15.
- The theatre prints out a movie listing every month that can be picked up on the theatre or viewed on their Facebook page – designed and printed by the Gull Lake Advance for free. You can also view it in the Advance.
- The cost of the theatre’s new equipment was paid for out of the co-op’s building fund. Not being able to do without one considering the age of the building, they’ve been hard at work rebuilding the fund through special fundraisers and to date have almost reached their goal.