Here is the exact text of the changes to the BC Liquor Control & Licensing Regulation which affect liquor sales in theatres and the showing of movies:

... section 8 of the Liquor Control and Licensing Regulation, B.C. Reg. 244/2002, is amended 

(a) by repealing subsection (2) (b) and substituting the following:

(b) subjection to subsection (2.1), a theatre as defined in the Motion Picture Act, and

(b) by adding the following subsections:

(2.1) A licensee may show films, subject to the Motion Picture Act, or broadcasts in an establishment that is a live event theatre if the film or broadcast is not shown during the hours of liquor service of the establishment.

(5) In this section, "live event theatre" means a theatre in which the events are primarily presented by individuals who are physically present at the event, and include an individual performer or presenter, a band or orchestra, a theatre, comedy or variety show company or a dance troupe.

A few notes on the effects of these amendments:

  • They only help "live event theatres" and only if they occasionally show a film. They do not help venues that are licensed full-time as movie theatres, so the underlying policy problem is not fixed.
  • Movies cannot be shown during the hours of liquor service. For most licensed venues, the hours of liquor service would cover normal movie-going times so that will be an issue. The venue will either have to restrict its hours of liquor service or apply to the Branch to "de-license" itself every time it wants to show a movie. Neither of those options is likely to be workable for most venues.
  • The definition of "live event theatre" is likely to be problematic. What about a multi-media event which is part movie, part live show? Is a movie a live event if a live person introduces/presents it or discusses the movie afterwards?
  • Finally, the amendments do not address the underlying policy problem. It is permissible to sell alcoholic drinks to adults at live theatres and sports events (where children are present) but some how it is not permissible to do exactly the same in a movie theatre. The LCLB has said that it is because movie theatres are "dark". But so are live theatres ... and drinks aren't permitted in the dark part of the theatre anyway. Since so many other jurisdictions permit this, surely BC could figure out a way to make it work by looking at how they do it elsewhere?

More analysis and commentary is in this updated article.

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