Entrepreneur Tony Wang says he is close to opening Yellowknife’s first dome theatre inside the city’s Center Ice Plaza.
Not to be confused with an Imax theatre, a dome theatre is a wrap-around screen housed within a geodesic dome that screens films across the dome’s roof and walls.
Wang said he became hooked on the medium after visiting Fly Over Canada, a similar Vancouver attraction. After immigrating from China to Canada, he decided to open his own theatre in Yellowknife.
“Now my dream comes true, so I’m happy,” he said.
The target audience for his business, Northern Sky Films, is tourists intrigued by the natural wonders of the Northwest Territories. Wang said he hopes locals will want to come, too.
Tourists who visit will see a film about the aurora that can be screened in several languages. Yellowknife and Aurora Village feature prominently.
Wang believes his business can eventually help to support the creation of more 360-degree films in the territory.
He has been working on the project since last April. Ray Decorby, who co-owns Center Ice Plaza with Polar Developments, said: “They’ll be putting some coin in there and I think it’ll be a positive thing.”
The plaza already houses the likes of Luluz Market and La Dee Dah Boutique.
With his family in Vancouver, Wang said he decided to come north as he anticipated less competition and difficulty setting up a business – though he added it’s now also about the people.
“Yellowknife’s people are kind,” he said. “I run a brand-new business here and no local people are against my business. We can get along well.”
Tony Wang at the entrance to his Northern Sky Films theatre. Emelie Peacock/Cabin Radio
While dome movie systems have been around for some time, Wang thinks dome theatres are gaining in popularity but, he said, the film-making industry for the format remains small and underfunded.
In the future, he hopes to have a hand in creating films about the Nahanni and Wood Buffalo national parks alongside other areas of the NWT and Arctic.
“It’s a difficult job,” he said. “The aurora 360 movie maybe took four months to shoot and maybe one year to make. So it’s very difficult to create a brand-new movie, especially a 360 dome movie.”
Wang said he is open to the idea, eventually, of helping to finance more films.
The theatre will have a seating capacity of 20 to 25 people and will match the plaza’s opening hours. Wang has hired his first employee and plans to hire another to run the theatre, which he estimates will have eight to 10 showings per day.
Guests get a sneak peek at Tony Wang’s dome theatre experience. Emelie Peacock/Cabin Radio
Wang hopes Northern Sky Films will have a soft opening this coming week. Pricing details have yet to be confirmed, though Wang promised a “locals’ price” for those who want to test out the theatre.
The opening date will be published on the company’s Facebook page.