There’s a lot you can get for $2.50. A small Iced Capp from Tim Hortons costs that much. But at a movie theatre, $2.50 doesn’t go very far—it might buy you a bag of fuzzy peaches. At Dollar Cinema, however, a two-screen theatre located in the Decarie Square mall, second-run movies show for $2.50. At this bargain price, Dollar Cinema has become an unlikely haven for the many who stumble across its neon-lit marquee and $1 buttered popcorn.
Bernie Gurberg, a former garment manufacturer and one-time mayoral candidate, opened Dollar Cinema in 2004. When the old Cineplex Odeon in Decarie Square closed, Gurberg set up shop, aiming to showcase current films at budget rates to make theatre-going a more affordable experience. Besides showing new releases, Gurberg also makes a point of having special screenings for classic films, such as Pulp Fiction, at a higher price of $5.
Dollar Cinema fills the gap that corporate movie theatres have left. With increasingly high ticket prices, it’s hard for the everyday family to simply go to the movies. Tickets at the Scotiabank Theatre cost $13.50 for an adult, and $8.99 for a child, whereas a family of four can see a movie at Dollar Cinema for $10.00.
Lorenzo (who asked to be identified only by his first name), a frequent patron of Dollar Cinema, works with special needs children and finds that Gurberg’s low prices make for the perfect outing.
“[I’ve been here] about a thousand times,” Lorenzo said. “Every Saturday since it opened [….] It’s a learning experience for [the kids] because they have sensory problems [….] I can come here and […] it’s inexpensive […] so instead of going to Famous Players where it’s a more chaotic environment, here it’s more affordable, and the parents are [comfortable] with it.”
What makes Dollar Cinema special is how accessible it is—families, newly immigrated ones in particular, make up most of Gurberg’s clientele. Customer loyalty is hardly a factor for corporate theatres such as Cineplex. Gurberg, however, matches his community’s dedication with his own dependability.
“It’s affordable, and we’re not as similar to the other cinemas in the sense that I’m here, meaning that I talk to everybody […] so I […] know so many more people than I would in the ordinary standard way, working in an office,” said Gurberg. “[I’ve been meeting] a lot of people, every day, for the past 14 years.”
Dollar Cinema is open every day until midnight, every day of the year, including holidays, and Gurberg is there for almost every showtime. In the fringes of Montreal, Gerberg has created a community of moviegoers, as dedicated to him as he is to them.
“It’s successful, but with the prices being as low as they are, the rent being high in a shopping mall, causes it not do well financially, but my heart and soul are getting the extra satisfaction,” Gurberg said.
Dollar Cinema is located near Namur metro station on 6900 Decarie Boulevard.