Back to the Movies: Canby Cinema Now Offering Private Screenings

Because of the continuing coronavirus pandemic, making unforgettable movie memories is not as easy as it would normally be. But, to paraphrase Ian Malcolm, the Canby Cinema 8, uh, is still finding a way.

That happened Sunday for 18-year-old Josh Odell, who is autistic, and who got to see his favorite movie, Jurassic Park, on the big screen for the first time in his life.

“He’s been obsessed with dinosaurs since he was a little boy,” his mother, Crista Burden Odell, said. “Jurassic Park has always been his favorite since he was very small because it’s ‘more realistic’ than some other dinosaur movies for children, like Land Before Time.”

Josh Odell and his mom before a private screening of his favorite film, Jurassic Park.

The screening was made possible by Canby Cinema, which just this week began offering rentals of private showings for parties of 10 or fewer.

“Since the movie came out eight years before he was born, he never got to see it on the big screen,” Odell said. “So he was thrilled to see it in the theater even though he can recite every line of the movie.”

The other members of the family enjoyed the experience, too. Crista Odell said the best part was no one giving her dirty looks for using her cellphone or taking pictures while the movie was playing. And…

“We got to yell stuff at the movie,” she laughed, “almost like The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

Try doing this during a normal showing.

With Clackamas County still treading water in phase 1 of the governor’s reopening plan, few local businesses have been more directly impacted than the Canby Cinema.

While most of Canby’s restaurants, bars, retail stores, salons, tatoo studios, health clinics and even massage parlors were able to reopen back in May, movie theaters — with their tendency to attract large crowds and keep them in a relatively close, enclosed space for hours at a time — were not.

The theater is open for concession sales, and has pivoted to its popular “mystery movie boxes” — which include candy/drink combos and a mystery movie in a genre of your choice — to bring in some revenue.

The cinema continued its creative approach to pandemic restrictions with the new private screening model, which allows them to actually bring patrons before the big screens again — albeit in a highly limited and modified fashion.

“We appreciate all the support you guys have shown us these last few months,” the theater said in a Facebook post announcing the new initiative. “Unfortunately, it’s still not yet safe to go back to business as usual. Therefore, we’re offering very limited capacity, private, in-theater screenings starting on August 21st.”

The screenings cost $150 — $50 of which is credited toward concessions — and can accommodate up to 10 people from the same household. They are offering three new movies each week, with showings running at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. each day.

Patrons are asked to wear masks anytime they are not eating and use designated doors for entry and exit. All seats are being sanitized after each screening.

For more information, or to book a private screening, visit the Canby Cinema 8’s Facebook page.

Canby Cinema has also been involved in the Clackamas County Fairgrounds’ efforts to establish a new drive-in movie theater this summer. The fairgrounds hopes to open for its first screening this Friday, Aug. 28.

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