Cans of Molson beer are seen at a news conference in Montreal, March 19, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
Housing Minister Rich Coleman, the recently appointed head of B.C.'s Liquor Control and Licensing Branch, said the changes would allow theatres more "flexibility" to operate.
"These changes strike an appropriate balance between allowing liquor service at theatres and limiting minors' access to alcohol," he said in a statement.
Soon after the announcement, operators such as movie-giant Cineplex Entertainment and Vancouver's independent single-screen Rio Theatre exclaimed their support.
Plans to serve alcohol at the SilverCity Coquitlam, B.C., adult-only ‘VIP' section, and at the Rio - which already holds a licence - are currently in the works.
"Anyone 19 years of age or older can buy a ticket to a VIP Cinema. When you sit in the auditorium ... one of our staff members would come and present you with a menu and you would be able to order any food or beverage from our VIP Cinema menu," said Cineplex's Pat Marshall.
"With this change in the law, we just need to apply for the licence to be able to serve."
Corrine Lea, owner of the Rio, hailed the announcement as a saving grace for her business.
"This is what our industry needs. Independent theatres have been in a crisis and we're just absolutely thrilled," she said.
Under the new rules, single-screen and live-event theatres can apply to serve alcohol in a public lobby - regardless of whether children are present - and may serve liquor inside auditoriums for adult-only showings.
Multiplex theatres are restricted to serving in adult-only auditoriums and lobbies.
Cineplex's Coquitlam theatre has five ‘VIP' auditoriums.
Marshall added the company is expected to open a similar ‘VIP' section in Abbotsford, B.C., later this year or in 2013.
B.C. is not the only province to allow liquor service during movies. Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta already permit alcohol in theatres, with age restrictions.