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Out with the old, in with the new
Piksuk Media is renovating the Astro Theatre in Iqaluit

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Monday, February 11, 2013

Wider seats, more leg room, new carpet, a bigger concession stand, lounge areas and decorations showcasing the Arctic are all part of a serious revamp being undertaken at Nunavut's only cinema.

NNSL photo/graphic

Ole Gjerstad of Piksuk Media sits in the new, wider seats at Iqaluit's Astro Theatre. The company is spending between $100,000 and $150,000 to renovate the cinema. - Jeanne Gagnon/NNSL photo

Piksuk Media acquired Astro Theatre in Iqaluit this past August and has since been busy giving the place a new look.

Twenty seats were sacrificed in the main cinema in favour of having 106 wider seats and more leg room between the aisles, said Ole Gjerstad of Piksuk Media. The aisles have been opened up to the point a spectator does not have to stand up to let another one pass through. Theatre 1 also features new flooring and new carpeting, renovations that were done in three days earlier this month without closing, said Gjerstad.

"When we have conferences, some people sit there for four hours or six hours but also some people just found they couldn't cross their legs properly," he said. "Our first priority with this renovation was to make the large theatre into a very comfortable place for movie goers, for conferences."

The Clyde River-based, majority Inuit-owned company is also giving the lobby a facelift. The box office will now be part of the concession stand as opposed to its currently location in the anteroom, said Gjerstad.

The concession-stand counter will come further out, he said, allowing a more varied selection of products, including the addition of a fryer for samosas and an espresso machine.

Two small lounge areas will be created at each end of the lobby with benches and two small tables, explained Gjerstad. The chairs along the walls will be removed.

"It will be a much more intimate theatre."

The brown-coloured walls will be repainted in two shades of grey to complement the brown-earth coloured countertop and grey tiles in front of the countertop, explained Gjerstad.

There will be no more movie posters, he added.

"There will be murals and images that reflect where we are - Nunavut," he said. "So it's not a theatre anywhere in the world. It's certainly not a Cineplex."

The renovations will cost between $100,000 and $150,000 and the new look should be ready mid-March. The theatre was getting worn down and it's been a while since the place was renovated, said Gjerstad.

"We want to keep this place for many years. Sooner or later it had to be done," he said.

The Astro Theatre remains located in the same building as the Frobisher Inn. Paul Sherman, general manager of the inn, is enthusiastic about the changes,

"I am sure, like with any business, when one does renovations, it will have a positive impact on everyone in Iqaluit, including our guests that may visit the theatre," said Sherman.

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