Photo courtesy of Luke Fandrich of Editing Luke and taken at the premiere screening of Your Cinema Needs You at the Monarch Theatre last weekend, with encore screenings this coming weekend.–SUBMITTED PHOTO

Last weekend’s premiere screenings of Your Cinema Needs You were a crash course in how to operate the Monarch Theatre again — from shuttered doors to a sold-out venue for three nights straight.

“We knew it was going to be busy, but we weren’t quite sure what that was going to look like,” said Luke Fandrich, the film’s creator. “You get everybody through the door and then you have a second line for the concession.”

By Saturday evening, things were operating smoothly and everything was ahead of schedule.

“I think everyone was expecting it as well, we aren’t really under a crunch time, it’s only one show for the night, it’s not like we are in a rush to get people out the door,” said Fandrich.

Over the past week, Fandrich has received lots of messages, with many recounting their personal experiences at the Monarch. He explained that feedback and hearing the reactions of audience members is the most amazing thing about the screenings. Many of them are side stories that weren’t directly related to the production itself but were triggered by something in the documentary.

“That is the cool part of screening for a local audience, there is lots in this story that is not written somewhere or publicly documented, so I’m hearing things I never would have found anywhere,” said Fandrich. “It’s amazing because it’s built this record around something that has been here for so long, but so much of it isn’t written and now there is a record there, even after the fact now with people sharing these new stories that I’m adding to this growing archive that could potentially be something else in the future.”

Most of the behind-the-screen previews and testing to see how people were responding to the film was done in Vancouver and the reaction of the audience was positive even though most knew nothing about Medicine Hat or the Monarch Theatre.

“A local audience is different though because they have individual experiences, and that was the element that was the exciting part of it. It’s been so incredibly positive in terms of people’s messages. We didn’t even know what to expect and didn’t know it would trigger all these memories along with building a new appreciation for the Monarch Theatre. There’s been an emotional component that has been really moving, having people respond to it in a personal way,” stated Fandrich.

The evening encore shows scheduled for this weekend all sold out earlier this week and a 3 p.m. matinee has been added on Saturday. There are still tickets available for that show that can be purchased at, although they are selling fast. Fandrich is looking forward to working on the wider release for Canada-wide streaming of the documentary on Telus Originals, which likely won’t happen for another few months.

By: Samantha Johnson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

This item reprinted with permission from   Medicine Hat News   Medicine Hat, Alberta

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