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New theatre screening new releases Christmas Day



Hollywood people expected in town over holidays

Whistler audiences might be getting a sneak preview of Denzel Washington’s new movie Antwone Fisher when the new eight-screen cinema opens on Christmas day.

The movie won’t be showing anywhere else until the New Year but Marshall Smith, the owner and operator of Whistler’s new movie theatre, is working behind the scenes for an earlier release date.

"It’s an Academy Award thing," he said.

"A lot of people from Hollywood are in Whistler over the holidays. We’re trying to prevail on Fox to move it up."

This isn’t the first time he has approached a studio to ask for an earlier release date for his resort audiences.

"The fact of the matter is that it’s their films and it’s up to them whether they want to play them or not. But if they can expose the movies to some people that are voters, they’re sometimes willing to do that."

Smith, who has cinemas in Sun Valley and Aspen, brought The Shipping News to Idaho skiers before it was playing anywhere else in the region last year.

"It wasn’t even playing in Salt Lake but there’s a lot of Hollywood people (in Sun Valley) so we played it over Christmas."

Antwone Fisher tells the story of a sailor with an explosive temper who is ordered to see a naval psychiatrist. It is Washington’s first directorial debut and is expected to collect some hardware come Oscar season.

Smith cautions that the film is still not booked yet for Whistler but he is working on it.

He confirmed other movies, which will be playing on Christmas Day, if construction in the former AlpenRock continues to move ahead as planned.

Audiences will get to see the second instalment of the Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers , on at least two screens.

The Leonardo DiCaprio/Tom Hanks new release, Catch Me If You Can , which tells the true story of the youngest man to make the FBI’s most-wanted list for forgery, will also play.

DiCaprio will also star in the Martin Scorsese tale about the rise of Italian and Irish gangsters in the 1860s in Gangs of New York.

This season’s romantic comedy starring Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant, called Two Weeks Notice, will also hit the Whistler screens.

And for the younger audiences Smith is planning to feature the cartoon capers of The Wild Thornberrys.

"We have eight screens and we’ll probably be playing 10 movies so everybody will have a big choice," said Smith.

Construction is moving along as planned said Smith, who came to Whistler from Sun Valley last weekend.

"The walls are all up. The electricians are in there working hot and heavy," he said.

Smith has been in the movie business for the past 35 years. This theatre, like his other theatres, will not go the way of the big-screen chain cinemas that dominate North America.

The lobby theatre in Whistler will be decorated in an art deco motif, complete with marble tabletops. Smith calls the whole effect "real fancy."

The theatre will house an old fashioned cafe, which will serve chocolates, ice cream, pastries and espresso.

There will be three theatres with seating capacities of 150 people. The rest will be smaller.

Along with the standard high-profile movies that will dominate on Christmas Day, Smith said in an earlier interview with Pique Newsmagazine that he also plans to bring in a lot of art films, domestic and foreign films and documentaries.

And, as in his other operations, he will also host film festivals in the theatre.

The new venue will not be ready for the two upcoming film festivals in Whistler over the next two weeks. The Banff Film Festival will be held at the Myrtle Philip Community Centre this weekend and the Whistler Film Festival will be held at the Rainbow Theatre and Millennium Place Dec. 5-8.

But Smith is hoping there is room to host events like those in the future.

He said ticket prices will be competitive with the Rainbow Theatre.

There will be matinee prices and discounts for kids, he added.

At peak times the theatre will run "full sets"; Smith explains there will be four shows each day between 1 p.m. and midnight.

"It’s an alternative form of recreation," he said.

"It’s a great amenity to keep people in the town that aren’t skiing,