Big silver still the main feature after upgrade

Caprice owner Moby Amarsi shows new digital movie pack versus old film reels in his renovated Duncan theatre. Caprice’s snack bar now includes juice drinks, nachos and more. - Peter W. Rusland
Caprice owner Moby Amarsi shows new digital movie pack versus old film reels in his renovated Duncan theatre. Caprice’s snack bar now includes juice drinks, nachos and more.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

Big-silver screens are still the best movie value in Moby Amarsi’s world.

The new owner of Duncan’s Caprice Theatre has spent big bucks upgrading his two screens to digital technology offering surround-sound.

Caprice’s left-hand theatre hands out glasses for 3-D viewing in 400 seats.

The right-hand screen has a digital 2-D format for 300 seats.

It’s all about giving viewers an experience, not just a movie, he explained.

“Whatever it takes to please the customer,” said Kenya-born Amarsi, whose family-run business also owns two theatres on the Lower Mainland.

“People go to a movie these days to escape the world, not to be harassed.”

That’s why he sees Caprice’s upgrades, and other plans as a solid investment.

“It’s a long-term commitment, not an overnight return,” he said inside the Caprice which sports a new paint job.

“New seating will be our next project.”

Washrooms renovations are also on deck.

The Caprice screens four shows daily on each side, up from two showings under former manager Dave Kerr — who still gives Amarsi “pointers” about running the downtown movie house employing eight staffers.

“I often consult with Dave; the Caprice was run very well.”

And Amarsi’s lobby snack bar doesn’t just offer popcorn, soft drinks and chocolate bars; Amarsi’s menu now lists natural juice drinks, plus nachos.

Then there’s Caprice’s reduced-price birthday-party packages.

“The idea is to service people, and that brings more people in.

“We’re open to suggestions; this is a community theatre, and we want feedback about what to do.”

One thing Amarsi and his workers don’t do is switch film reels.

Movies from distributer Deluxe arrive in a hard-case digital pack that’s uploaded into computerized projection gear that controls sound, and even the house lights.

“There are no moving parts but a crisper, clearer picture because of the number of (computer) pixels,” he explained.

“You can actually feel the sound.”

Amarsi picks flicks mostly aimed at the 15– to 25-year-old market, with films for families and adults also brought in.

Pictures are chosen by researching new releases, reading reviews, and other data.

His recent favourite was Planet Of The Apes (“Just amazing”), and Shrek, containing “lots of (subtle) adult humour.”

“We’re also looking at holding some international film festivals.”

Amarsi learned about customer service and elastic thinking during a decade in the demanding show business — including eight owning a Qualicum Beach theatre, before it burned down in 2004.

He also ran and sold a theatre in Ladysmith.

Amarsi’s aware of Netflix use — and that a cineplex is possibly planned for the Duncan Mall.

But he remains undaunted, mulling more screens for his Caprice corner. “Time will tell.”

Despite challenges and changes, customer satisfaction remains constant.

“When people leave here, we want them to have had a happy experience,” Amarsi said.

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