Paradise CinemasThat photo isn’t great. It has two things going against it: 1. I took it, and 2. it’s a rushed iPhone pic in a dark Paradise Cinemas.

To help you out, the poster is for Oz the Great and Powerful and it says “COMING SOON” below it. Not so, unfortunately: Paradise Cinemas is closed.

I was looking for something to do on Tuesday and, having failed to convince Girlfriend to go to Oblivion with me, decided to see what was on at the Paradise. Turns out, I had checked in on their very last day as a movie theatre in Regina.

So it was that we wound up going to The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, the last film to be screened at Paradise Cinemas.

The place had always been a bit of an oddity. Its selection of movies could best be described as 1.5 run — not quite first run like the Galaxy or second run like the Rainbow, but somewhere in between. Prices were in the middle ground, too, going at $7.50 a ticket.

We often wound up going for the charm of the place. It was nice to have another theatre in town that didn’t feel like a Cineplex clone, and the theatres were a step up from the Rainbow, a place I love to be clear.

It was also a theatre with quirks, beyond being housed in a building with a mini-golf course. (The mini-golf course and arcade are staying open.) For a while, they served buckets of popcorn. Perogies, too, if you wanted them. If you wanted a beer, you’d have to finish it before you got into the theatre, but it was always an option.

Paradise was also one of our last film theatres. The Galaxy, Rainbow and Southland Cineplex have all gone completely digital. When we got to Paradise, I asked why they were shutting down the theatre and sure enough, it was because they couldn’t afford (or don’t want to shell out) to convert to digital. Now, our only film theatre in town is the Regina Public Library, and even they have to show a movie or too on DVD on occasion.

To be honest, we also wound up going to Paradise because we knew it wouldn’t be packed. There was at least one occasion where my group took two separate cars and the first car there had to try and convince the person at the counter that more were coming, as Paradise always said they wouldn’t start the movie with less than four people in the theatre. The busiest I ever saw it there was when they were the first theatre to get Moonrise Kingdom in Regina. That was a good time.

Burt Wonderstone was no Moonrise Kingdom, in attendance or quality. My group of three was joined by one fellow who sat at the back of the theatre, laughing at odd moments in a movie that had few laughs to be found. The movie really felt like a wounded animal, like at one point there was a serviceable script or at least one that showed some promise but had one too many injuries dealt to it.

The best tribute to the odd beauty of the place were our tickets Tuesday night, which read “BERT WONDERTO”. Thanks for the movies, Paradise Cinemas.