Royal Theatre owner/operator Lisa Milne welcomes Greater Trail residents back to a new and wondrous entertainment experience. Go online to book a ticket at royaltheatretrail.com.  Photo: Jim Bailey.

Covid intermission reels in new era for Kootenay moviehouse

COVID safe, the newly renovated Royal Theatre in Trail welcomes patrons back to the movies

At almost a century old, the Royal Theatre in downtown Trail has never looked better.

Thanks to owners/operators Lisa and Jason Milne, the grande dame of Kootenay theatres was given a major makeover during the coronavirus-forced eight-month shutdown.

“Across Canada there are a lot of theatres that won’t open back up, in the smaller towns that don’t have the support, so it’s in really dire straights right now,” explained Lisa Milne, who took over operations of the theatre in 2009, breathing new life and community interest into the aging structure.

Related read: Royal Theatre among cinemas featured in doc

See more: 15 new cases of COVID in Interior Health

Built in 1927 as a live theatre, the Royal has been a favourite destination of Greater Trail families for 93 years, with the latest and arguably most impressive version opening just two weeks ago.

“I wish I had done it a couple months ago, but we couldn’t,” Lisa told the Trail Times. “But absolutely, the response has been amazing. I have actually had people in tears when they arrived, they were just so glad to be out.

“And while they still maintain that space, that bubble, they still have that feeling of community, which is exactly what we need right now.”

The vintage lighted frames were found stored in one of the old back rooms of the 1927 original live theatre, and revived for the newly renovated Royal. Photo: Jim Bailey.

The vintage lighted frames were found stored in one of the old back rooms of the 1927 original live theatre, and revived for the newly renovated Royal. Photo: Jim Bailey.

The Milnes were incredibly proactive during the pandemic, when essentially all movie theatres had been shuttered and no films released due to COVID-19.

They seized the opportunity to undertake a major renovation, transforming an aging interior into a state-of-the-art entertainment icon.

“It wasn’t just dreamt up because of the pandemic, definitely it is something we wanted to do, but it was going to be a more phased approach.”

The Milnes installed a brand new HVAC system, expanded the lobby, and moved the washrooms.

The theatre walls were stripped to expose original brick-work three-stories high, and they traded out the old screen for a technological marvel, a curved 3D screen about the size of a football field.

“The curved screen gives you a completely immersing experience,” said Lisa. “The centre of the screen actually follows you as you’re watching the movie, and at 50-feet, we’re the largest screen outside of Calgary and Vancouver.”

But the pièces de resistance are the 146 massive, single and double, leather reclining chairs with drink holders, which replace the old-style movie seats.

“We’ve known for years that these are what people want,” said Lisa. “We have to get you out of your comfy couch at home, and come down here and have our delicious homemade popcorn, and watch the latest movie.”

She is trying creative ways to keep the business viable including adding more showings in the form of matinees, streaming Trail Smoke Eaters games, bringing in older films, and renting the theatre out to groups and organizations.

The Royal Theatre also looks forward to the day it can resume showings of the Metropolitan Operas, Bolshoi Ballets, musicals, and art house pictures.

The renovations not only realized a small dream for the Milnes, but also provided a gift for the Greater Trail community.

Not only will watching newly released films be an amazing experience, residents were also able to scoop up the old chairs and add a keepsake to their rec rooms or front porch, and the renovations also employed a number of local workers during a very difficult time.

The result speaks volumes, for it wasn’t until the screen went up and the scaffolding came down that the Milnes could truly appreciate what they had accomplished.

“We haven’t been able to turn on our equipment for seven months,” Lisa said. “The day we put some trailers on and it worked, I just stood here in tears, and said, ‘That’s exactly what ‘she’ wants to be. This is what this building was built for, and she’s in the happiest place ever right now, it’s just amazing.’”

While the pandemic continues, so will protocols within the theatre.

The Royal’s capacity is capped at 50 people per showing, so patrons are asked to purchase tickets online, or otherwise risk the show being sold out when they arrive at the box office.

In addition, the Royal is offering tours of the theatre to anyone who would like to view the new upgrades and/or ensure it is safe, sanitary, and socially distanced.

“We’re offering tours for people to just take a quick look around and see, so that they can understand when they come to the movie, how we are trying to keep them safe.”

For those attending, masks or face coverings are required in the lobby, but movie-goers can remove them once seated. Masks will be available to purchase if you do not have one.

Children under age five are not required to wear a mask.

The Royal’s interior renovation reveals the original brick work.

The Royal’s interior renovation reveals the original brick work.



sports@trailtimes.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Trail and District Arts Council

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Finn Lydon. Photo: Submitted
Police search for missing Winlaw boy

Finn Lydon was last seen Dec. 3 at 11:30 a.m.

Interior Health has set up a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site in Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar doctors and mayor urge residents to take COVID-19 seriously as cases are confirmed in the city

“Your doctors would like you to understand we do now have Covid cases here”

There are few details but neighbours a Second Avenue house in Chilliwack say a huge police presence descended on the home after shots were heard. (File photo)
Robson search warrant yields fentanyl and weapons

Search warrant was part of an ongoing drug trafficking investigation

Youth Climate Corps members April Gariepy, Summer Monkman and Linn Murray at work in West Arm Provincial Park, fall 2020. Photo: Submitted
Youth Climate Corps members April Gariepy, Summer Monkman and Linn Murray at work in West Arm Provincial Park. fall 2020. Photo submitted
VIDEO: Kootenay youth climate group works to protect Nelson’s water supply

Youth Climate Corps members spent five weeks thinning forest in West Arm Park

Photo: Black Press file
Trail traffic stop yields stolen cheque investigation

Trail RCMP will continue enhanced impaired driving enforcement this holiday season

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Richard Reeves examines a painted film strip in his home studio. Photo: Aaron Hemens
PHOTOS: Pandemic inspires creativity for Creston animator Richard Reeves

For more than 30 years, Richard Reeves has been creating abstract animated short-films by drawing and painting images onto strips of film.

Good Samaritan Mountainview Village located at 1540 KLO Road in Kelowna. (Good Samaritan Society)
First long-term care resident dies from COVID-19 in Interior Health

Man in his 80s dies following virus outbreak at Mountainview Village

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

Most Read