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If you’re planning to see Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker this holiday season, three of the city’s multiplexes are giving a touch of the Star Wars cantina to the experience for adult moviegoers.
And if you want to wait until the movie hits the screens of Cinema City, you won’t lose that cantina experience.
Quietly and without fanfare, the Scotiabank multiplex at Polo Park, St. Vital Silver City and Kildonan Place Cinemas have introduced alcoholic beverages into their lobby offerings, alongside popcorn, soft drinks and licorice.
The theatres introduced the option in late November, said Sarah Van Lange, Cineplex’s director of communications.
"Guests can purchase alcohol from a designated bar in the lobby or from Outtakes (concession) and take it into the auditorium if they choose," Van Lange said Wednesday.
"They have been operating as fully licensed theatres and theatre staff responsible for our licensed locations have received formal training through provincial programs."
As well, on Sept. 11, the Cinema City complex at the Northgate Shopping Centre introduced alcohol sales.
In Winnipeg, the option had been available only at the three VIP auditoriums at the McGillivray cinemas since 2012, where patrons were served drinks right at their seats.
Cineplex started serving booze before that, Van Lange said.
"Since 2010, Cineplex has offered a selection of beer, wine and spirits at select locations across Canada," she said. "A number of theatres are now fully licensed throughout the building."
"Guests can purchase alcohol from a designated bar in the lobby or from Outtakes (concession) and take it into the auditorium if they choose." – Sarah Van Lange, Cineplex's director of communications
Cinematheque, the art cinema in the Exchange District, has been at work for some time to become a licensed establishment, but the process is ongoing, senior programmer Dave Barber said. Cinematheque’s director of operations, David Knipe, is on vacation and was unavailable for comment.
The Landmark Grant Park and Towne cinemas do not serve alcohol.
"We’re definitely looking at it," said Jack Gardner, vice-president of marketing at Landmark Cinemas, but he did not offer a timeline.
While beer and cider were available Wednesday at the theatre beside Polo Park (with wine to become available starting Thursday), several patrons weren’t ready to line up for it.
"Never," said Kathy Everton, as she prepared to watch the evening showing of Jumanji: The Next Level.
"We’d drink it at home, but this is supposed to be an environment for children. Maybe for a midnight show, but not now."
Her husband, Darrell, agreed: "It is different at a sporting event... Going to see a movie, for us, is a family event."
Jonah Keith, who ordered a soda and some food before entering the theatre, said he didn’t realize beer was now on sale.
"I generally would probably still take pop," he said. "We’re not too much into drinking — but I’m sure I know people who would. But when I come to a movie, I want sugar."
While Jenna Hope said she wouldn’t be drinking at a theatre, she doesn’t mind if others do.
"To each their own," she said. "I don’t really mind — as long as they don’t over-serve. And especially if my kids are with me."
Amanda Creasy, Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba’s director of strategic services and public affairs, said the movie theatres have entertainment-facility licences.
Creasy said it’s the same licence the Centennial Concert Hall, Burton Cummings Theatre, Bell MTS Place and IG Field all come under.
"You have to have some sort of entertainment in front of you, there has to be food available, but not required as part of an order," she said.
As well, Creasy said staff who serve the alcohol have to be 18 and older, and they have to have taken the responsible-service training. She said patrons are only allowed to order two drinks at a time, and they can be checked for proof of ID if they look too young to order alcohol.
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.
In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.
Updated on Thursday, December 19, 2019 at 12:34 PM CST: Writethru.