This year has been a major one for the world of film. From the picketing lines in Hollywood, held by both actors and writers alike, to big summer blockbusters like everyone’s favourite power couple, Barbie and Oppenheimer, this year has turned out to be a wild one for the film industry. With the closing of Vogue Cinema, however, the Sackville cinephile community might be looking at a different era. The cinema was the town’s only cinema, and it was held in the highest esteem by moviegoers throughout Tantramar.
Released during the summer, Barbie made waves across time and space, with director Greta Gerwig becoming the highest-grossing female director in movie history. The film’s opening weekend shattered a number of records, including the biggest weekend opening for a non-superhero movie, non-sequel, and non-remake. The film became one of the just over 50 movies to surpass the $1 billion threshold. Its competitor, Oppenheimer, quickly became one of Christopher Nolan’s highest-ranking films, beating Inception in box office earnings. The film features many challenges for the acclaimed director, including scenes of the Trinity Test without the use of CGI.
In addition to the movie madness, picket lines have risen all over the United States, especially in the cities of Los Angeles and New York, with many celebrities standing in solidarity with the Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild. TikTok and Instagram reels from various picketing locations have been circulating on the internet, and related interviews of Screen Actors Guild members, like Bryan Cranston, have been reaching viral status as movie studios and streaming services refuse to bargain.
With all of these happenings, it may feel easy to dismiss the closing of Vogue Cinema. But in the midst of widespread cinematic news, it may be more important than ever. Sackville’s most beloved theatre, since 1946, has officially shut down after 77 years of business. The cinema has been a historic cornerstone of Bag Town for decades. The Mount Allison Screen Studies Society remarked on the business as one of the latest in a series of heartbreaking building shutdowns and closures. “It was a beautiful theatre that they just don’t make anymore,” remarked Darcy Worth of the Screen Studies Society. “Going to see a movie wasn’t the only draw. Part of it was the experience of being in such a cool environment.”
Vogue Cinema was an outlier, keeping an old-fashioned aesthetic unlike bigger theatre franchises like Cineplex. Beloved by students and Sackville residents alike, the cinema offered a way to watch movies in an affordable and joyous social setting. The experience of watching a film at Vogue was like no other. “You can’t have the Vogue experience even in Moncton,” Worth believes. To folks like Worth, the cinema offered a unique experience that cannot be found elsewhere. Socially, emotionally, and aesthetically, Vogue Cinema offered a method of watching that was almost magically other.
Not only was the building a proud landmark of the Sackville community, it was a meeting place for film buffs both on and off campus. The Film Society met at the cinema’s doors once a week to watch a movie, and those who were not a part of the society were welcomed with open arms. It founded a sense of community, drawing in crowds in an age where streaming services and corporate chains rock the film industry. Since the closing of Vogue Cinema, the Film Society has begun meeting in Amherst for their weekly get-togethers. While only a 20-minute drive from Sackville, there are noticeable downsides. Travel, especially in a town populated heavily by university students, is a difficult slope to climb, given the lack of public transportation. Those that have cars may also struggle to make it to Amherst on such a regular basis, given the rising costs of gas across the provinces.
While it is certain that a great many things will be missed, from its old-fashioned aesthetic to the $5 tickets on Tuesday, the business had a good run. Additionally, Sackville may not need to say goodbye just yet. “I’m very hopeful” remarked Ranz Bontogon, Vice President of the society. “The building is on sale. So, whoever is going to buy it, please revive it and please treat it well.” The president of the society, Abby Spencer, believes that Vogue Cinema is not over yet, stating “I really do hope that people in the community can keep the Vogue as […]it was”.
Sackville has rallied around businesses in the past and the community has always had a soft spot for local businesses. The Vogue may be closed, but it may not always be. Its impact on this community has been beyond words, and its closing has caused an emotional rift among the many people who gathered at its doors for Rocky Horror Night, or its many other annual events. The impact has been felt across town, but it may soon be fixed by our lovely community.