After being closed for more than two and a half years, Highlands Cinemas in Kinmount — a beloved cottage country destination — is fully reopening for the season in time for the Victoria Day long weekend.
Owner Keith Stata partially reopened his unique entertainment complex, which combines a 18,500-square-foot independent multiplex cinema with a 4,000-square-foot museum, on May 6, but is now set to be completely operational for the long weekend.
Stata, who is turning 75 this year, has been operating Highlands Cinemas, located on the border of Kawarthas Lakes and Haliburton Highlands, since 1979 when he began with one 58-seat theatre. He now has five theatres with a total of 550 seats, along with the museum — and more than 40 rescued cats.
“When we closed for the season in October 2019, I somehow didn’t envision not opening for two years, but along came Covid-19 and changed our world,” Stata writes on his website.
“As a seasonal business with a high cost to re-open each season, we needed to be able to re-open for a reasonable normal restriction-free season, with films to run and people ready to come back to the movies, to cover costs and make a profit. That certainly wasn’t the way it was the past two years.”
While Stata received some government support, with customer donations helping him to care for the resident cats, Stata estimates a reopening cost of $50,000. He was considering selling a portion of his property to cover the cost, until he discovered a City of Kawartha Lakes zoning bylaw prevented it.
VIDEO: “The Movie Man” trailer
Ontario-based Door Knocker Media and Ballinran Entertainment have developed a documentary on Stata, called The Movie Man, directed by Doorknocker Media’ Matt Finlin. The film is currently being shopped to streaming companies such as Netflix and Crave.
As for Highlands Cinemas, it’s now open four days a week from Fridays to Mondays. For the Victoria Day long weekend, Stata is showing four first-run films with evening screenings: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, Sonic The Hedghog 2, and Downtown Abbey: A New Era.
For more information, including theatre and museum prices (cash only), visit www.highlandscinemas.com.