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June 24, 2014
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Editorial: Wine and beer at the movies an idea worth toasting

People have been predicting the demise of movie theaters for decades. Television, video cassette recorders, pay-per-view channels, DVDs, and streaming media have all chiseled away at cinema house attendance. But even combined, they haven’t drawn a curtain over it. We still like going to the movies.

One reason these theaters are still with us is because their proprietors aren’t afraid to wield various butterfly nets to capture patrons. Whether it’s selling 3-D glasses or investing in digital projectors, movie house managers will do what it takes to entice customers into their darkened auditoriums.

Garden Valley Cinema is following that tradition by presenting wine and beer as coming attractions. The eight-screen theater owned by Ashland-based CineMagic Inc. will gain three auditoriums next month as a result of the imminent closure of the Harvard Cinema, another CineMagic property sold to a Roseburg church.

One of its auditoriums will be remodeled to accommodate larger seats and tables. It will also be barred to ages 20 and younger. Adults will be able to purchase wine or beer to enjoy along with the screening.

CineMagic is following the lead of other alcohol-serving theaters in the Pacific Northwest with Portland, Eugene, Bend, Seattle and Bremerton, Washington, among them. We don’t know how much or if the plan will boost movie theater attendance in Roseburg. But we think it’s a solid marketing move.

As such, we have to disagree with Roseburg City Councilor Marty Katz. His was the lone dissenting vote when the council approved Roseburg Cinemas’ liquor license application on June 9. Katz said it’s “morally wrong” to offer alcohol in a movie theater. He also indicated there’s a link between such enterprises and a difficulty in recruiting businesses and professional people.

It is a shame, as Katz stated, that the city lacks a library that’s open full time. But we don’t believe there’s a correlation between a poor economy and allowing patrons to enjoy a glass of chardonnay with “Mood Indigo” or a bottle of Beck’s with “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”

Children and teens don’t seem to be harmed by attending restaurants where their parents drink. We can name many family-friendly public gatherings where alcohol is consumed — the Douglas County Fair, the Summer Arts Festival, Music on the Half Shell and Henry Goes Wine. Theater representatives have said that not only will Garden Valley Cinema bar minors from the auditorium where alcohol is served, but also a two-drink maximum policy will be enforced. It hardly sounds like a breeding ground for moral decay.

Besides, admission to the adult auditorium will cost more than the usual ticket price of $6.25 to $8.50, on top of what the alcohol costs. And movie theaters aren’t known for cheap concessions. Certainly it’s possible to get obnoxiously drunk after investing extra money in entertainment. But it’s hardly the same as glugging high-octane beer on a street corner.

All points considered, the most fitting response to CineMagic’s proposal can be summed up in one word: Cheers!

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The News-Review Updated Jun 24, 2014 10:54AM Published Jun 30, 2014 11:30AM Copyright 2014 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.