The Show Must Go On(line)! Davis Varsity Theatre
Make sure you’re stocked up on popcorn! For the first time in its 99 years of service, Davis’ Varsity Theatre is relying on us to watch movies from home.
The local icon has made a unique selection of 35 films available for at-home streaming. The selection features a variety of rare cinema treasures contributed by a group of small studios—the very ones who make the films the Varsity has been sharing for years. “Some studios decided to release some of the classics that they have rights to,” shares Sinisa Novakovic, owner of the Varsity since 2006, “Many quality movies that don’t make it to the big screen are now available as well.”
The shift to online “moviegoing” was instigated by a series of small studios who came together to support the Varsity during this time. For each movie rental, half of the sales go to the Varsity to help mitigate this unprecedented period of difficulty. “Initially, it was just one studio,” notes Novakovic, “but in a matter of days, another jumped on board.” Now, The Varsity has partnered with eight different studios, and the list only continues to expand.
Although the future remains uncertain, the Varsity may have a better chance at surviving the financial repercussions of a pandemic than the large theater chains.
“Watching a movie is a completely different experience when you see it on a life-size screen,” says Novakovic, “but some movies are disappointing no matter how big of a screen you show it on.” As an independent, art-house theater, the Varsity offers wonderfully distinct films that cannot be found in major chains.
The Varsity also boasts the advantage of its old-fashioned charm (the Varsity building is a historical landmark), world-class gelato at the adjacent Icekrimski Cafe, and friendly staff. “[For the] people who come, it’s not all about the movie, it’s an experience,” says Novakovic.
The survival of the Varsity will depend on an ability to withstand long periods of low attendance once Shelter-In-Place orders have been lifted— which is why community support during this time is crucial.
In addition to movie rentals, movie passes are available for purchase to help bolster attendance upon reopening, and $3 of every sale at sister business Mishka’s Cafe will also go toward supporting The Varsity.
“Honestly, just knowing that people out there are doing it gives me a tremendous morale boost because you realize that the theater means something to the community,” shares Novakovic. “And then you fight even harder, because you’re not in it alone.”
Find the full list of available films: https://www.davisvarsity.net/category/now-playing/
Varsity Movie Passes: https://mishkaslab.squarespace.com/merch/varsity-movie-pass
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