Many Vancouverites have paid visits to this local theatre, considered the ‘Grand Old Lady of Granville’, as have many film sets.
The Orpheum Theatre is nearly a century old and is an iconic landmark in Vancouver’s downtown core, situated on the Granville Strip. According to a local ghost expert it’s also haunted.
Designed in a mix of Romanesque, Moorish, Gothic and Spanish Renaissance styles– typical of larger North American cinemas in the late 1920s, the theatre continues to attract both local audiences and Hollywood North crews.
The venue has a unique interior but it’s history is just as captivating.
Although the Orpheum officially opened on Nov. 7, 1927, locals had already been enjoying films the day prior, when the theatre had its soft launch day-long screening of three shows including vaudeville acts, films, news reels, and musical performances from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m.
In 1973, faced with a dwindling audience and economic pressure, the Famous Players cinema chain decided to give the inside of the Orpheum a makeover and turn it into a multiplex movie theatre. However, the news prompted a “Save the Orpheum” public protest and fundraising campaign which ultimately rescued the theatre.
On March 19, 1974, the City of Vancouver bought the theatre for $7.1 million, closed it for renovations in 1975, and didn’t reopen it again until April 2, 1977. It became the permanent home of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and in 1979 it was declared a national historic site.
The inside of the Orpheum theatre is a marvel itself.
During the winter between 1975 to 1976, a ceiling mural was painted on 24 large canvas panels (they were made in and shipped from Los Angeles) by famed decorative artist and muralist Tony Heinsbergen, who also helped decorate the Orpheum before it’s original opening in 1927.
The mural became the theatre’s signature detail and features many figures based on real people, such as Paul Merrick, the theatre’s design architect, who is pictured as the bearded man serenading the muse.
At the time of its opening, the theatre also featured a gold-leafed ceiling, crystal chandeliers, silk wall hangings, and a $45,000 organ. The main entry of the theatre is faced with glazed terra cotta block cladding in the Second Renaissance style.
The 96-year-old theatre can be spotted in a number of movies and TV series, from superhero shows like Supergirl to famous films like The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1.
These are all the movies and TV shows that filmed at this historic landmark:
- The Flash
- The X-Files
- The L Word
- The Magicians
- Legends of Tomorrow
- Battlestar Galactica
- The Changeling
- Battle in Seattle
- The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1
- The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus