Film facelift

New owner of the Screening Room hopes to attract mainstream viewers while maintaining loyal indie lovers

Wendy Huot is often behind a desk at Stauffer Library, but on July 29 she’ll move into her second office, as the new Screening Room owner.
Wendy Huot is often behind a desk at Stauffer Library, but on July 29 she’ll move into her second office, as the new Screening Room owner.

The new owner of a local movie theatre is looking to attract students.

Wendy Huot, a Queen’s University librarian, bought the Screening Room at 120 Princess St. this June. She said she’s hoping to add late-night screenings of horror and cult films to “encourage a different crowd and be a little bit rowdier.

“It’s long been my dream to run a movie theatre,” said Huot, who takes over the theatre on Friday. “I’m a big movie buff. I like watching movies and I like making opportunities for others to watch movies. So when I saw that [the Screening Room] was for sale I thought this was my chance.”

Plans are in the works to add a modern digital projection system to one of the Screening Room’s theatres in addition to the existing 35mm reel projectors.

“I would be able to play more films in a given month and be more responsive to community film suggestions,” Huot said. “It’s all about being able to play a wide range of film ... satisfy the cinema buffs and the niche audiences in town.”

Under the previous owners, the Screening Room was known for showing independent films—a character trait that won’t change despite Huot’s plans to expand the theatre’s audience base.

“One of the things that’s really good about the Screening Room is that it has a strong backbone of movie goers who are willing to take chances on movies they haven’t heard of,” Huot said.

“Even though I will bring in films that there will be a lot of hype and awareness of, I will also play movies people haven’t heard of. I will encourage movie goers to take risks. We will continue to play movies that don’t play in other places in town.”

Huot also wants to maintain the theatre’s home-like atmosphere, continuing to serve drinks out of ceramic mugs.

“I plan to renovate the space and change the ambiance a bit,” she said. “I still want to keep the casual, non-commercial feel of the space. I don’t plan to change the space and make it all Ikea or a sleek coffee bar; just give it some new life.”

The first thing to renovate is the theatre’s menu, she said.

“I’ll start to bring in some interesting hard to find candies and snacks. Some British candies, Italian juices and pops, stuff you can’t find anywhere else in the city.”

Huot applied for a kiosk at the Frosh Week sidewalk sale this month, with plans to lure students with free popcorn and two for one deals.

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