Cineplex Entertainment

Cineplex Entertainment LP
Type Public
Industry Film exhibitor
Founder(s) Nathan Nathanson
Headquarters Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Area served Canada
Key people Ellis Jacob, President & CEO
Revenue increase CAN$ 1.010 billion (2010)
Net income increase CAN$ 63.0  million (2010)
Employees Over 10,000[1]
Divisions Cineplex Odeon Cinemas
Galaxy Cinemas
SilverCity Cinemas
Cinema City Cinemas
Colossus Cinemas
Coliseum Cinemas
Famous Players Cinemas
Scotiabank Theatres

Cineplex Entertainment LP (TSXCGX), is the largest film exhibitor in Canada and owns, leases or has a joint-venture interest in 130 theatres with 1,351 screens. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, Cineplex operates theatres from British Columbia to Quebec. The company operates the Cineplex Odeon, Galaxy, Famous Players, Colossus, Coliseum, SilverCity, Cinema City, and Scotiabank Theatre brands.



Early development

Famous Players logo, used until 1988

Famous Players Canadian Corporation was founded in 1920 when Paramount Pictures bought Nathan Nathanson's Paramount Theatre chain, which he had established four years earlier.[nb 1] Nathanson became the first president of Famous Players Canadian Corporation.[2] The Famous Players Theatres chain was always strongly linked with Paramount Pictures, and was a wholly owned subsidiary of Paramount Communications at the time that firm was acquired by Viacom in 1994. Some of the most high-profile and popular theatres in the Famous Players chain were the Imperial and the Uptown in Toronto; and the Capitol, Orpheum, Stanley, and Strand in Vancouver.

Nathanson resigned from his post as President of Famous Players Canadian in 1929, but after a government investigation into the new executives' plans to merge with Paramount-Publix Corporation declared this to be an illegal combine, violating anti-trust laws, Nathanson was re-elected as President in May 1933.[2]

Odeon Theatres of Canada was started by Paul Nathanson, Nathan's son, as "General Theatre Corporation." The "Odeon Theatres of Canada" name was first used in January 1941. The elder Nathanson was rumoured to be involved in the chain, but it was not until early May 1941 that he once again resigned from Famous Players Canadian and acknowledged his position in forming and running Odeon. The chain, initially composed of independent theatres, was not originally affiliated with the British "Odeon Cinemas" circuit; it was sold to the British chain's owners, the Rank Organisation, in 1946. Following World War II, there was a wave of anglophilia in Ontario; Odeon emphasised their British ownership to capitalize on this sentiment, screening British films—particularly those made by Rank.[2]

Odeon Canada merged with the Canadian Theatres chain in 1978, becoming known as Canadian Odeon Theatres.

On April 19, 1979, Nathan "Nat" Taylor, inventor of the multiscreen theater, and Garth Drabinsky opened the first Cineplex location, an 18-screen complex in the basement of the Toronto Eaton Centre. At the time, the theatre's 1,600 seats earned it a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.[3] After successfully challenging the Famous Players/Canadian Odeon duopoly and their exclusive contracts with major studios, Cineplex proceeded to purchase Canadian Odeon, forming Cineplex Odeon Corporation. The Bronfman family was a major investor in the purchase.[3]

Expansion and competition

SilverCity Richmond Hill Cinemas

In the 1980s, Drabinsky purchased regional circuits throughout the United States, rebranding them as Cineplex Odeon Theatres as well.[3] Back in Canada, Drabinsky used his new position to aggressively challenge Famous Players Theatres, opening more ultramodern multiplexes nationwide.

Most famously, Famous Players Theatres allowed the lease on a property containing the entrance of one of its flagship Toronto locations, the Imperial Six, to lapse in 1986. Cineplex immediately took over the lease, denying Famous Players Theatres access to the portion of the property that they already owned outright. Famous Players eventually sold its property to Cineplex Odeon Cinemas, on the condition it never again be used to show filmed entertainment. Cineplex's live-theatre division renovated the theatre; renamed the Pantages Theatre, it hosted The Phantom of the Opera for ten years. The theatre is now known as the Canon Theatre.

Cineplex also established a distribution unit, Cineplex Odeon Films, during this period; its assets were largely sold to Alliance Atlantis in 1998. A home-video division was started in 1986, replacing Pan-Canadian Video Presentations. The home-video division was sold to Alliance Atlantis in 1998.

Famous Players expanded throughout the 1990s. Under chairman John Bailey, Famous Players re-built its infrastructure from 1997 to 2003 with new "megaplex" theatre brands featuring stadium seating, such as SilverCity and Coliseum, with food courts and video games.

Also during this time, AMC Theatres entered the Canadian market, and most of the traditional ties between the existing chains and the major studios began to unwind, putting all three chains in full-on competition in several major markets.


By May 1998, Drabinsky had lost control of Cineplex to the Bronfmans' Seagram and its MCA division, which subsequently merged Cineplex Odeon Theatres with Sony's Loews Theatres. The resulting firm, Loews Cineplex Entertainment, went bankrupt in 2001 due to the economic recession of the early 2000s,[3] leading to a buyout led by Onex Corporation.

Meanwhile, Galaxy Entertainment Inc. was created in 1999 by Ellis Jacob, a former Chief Operating Officer of Cineplex, and Stephen Brown, a former Cineplex Chief Financial Officer. With investments from Onex and Famous Players, the new company focused on smaller markets that were usually served by smaller theatres and old equipment, opening large, major chain-style locations under the Galaxy Cinemas banner.

In October 2003, Loews Cineplex Theatres merged its Canadian operations with Galaxy Cinemas, forming Cineplex Galaxy Income Fund. Jacob became the chief executive of Cineplex Galaxy Cinemas, and Brown became the CFO. Onex was the controlling shareholder of both Loews Cineplex Theatres and Galaxy Cinemas at the time of the merger, but sold its interest in Loews in June 2004. It maintained control of Cineplex Galaxy.[citation needed]

In 2004, Famous Players Theatres locations in the Maritimes, none of which were branded-concept theatres, were sold to the region's dominant exhibitor, Empire Theatres. Canadian Odeon locations in the region had been sold to Empire in the late 1970s or early 1980s, prior to the former's acquisition by Cineplex Odeon Cinemas.[citation needed]

On June 13, 2005, Cineplex Galaxy Income Fund announced its acquisition of Famous Players Theatres from Viacom for $500 million (about US$397 million). This deal was completed on July 22, 2005. To satisfy antitrust concerns, on August 22, 2005 the group announced the sale of 27 locations in Ontario and western Canada to Empire Theatres.

Cineplex Entertainment announced on March 31, 2006 that it had sold seven more theatres in Quebec to Chelsea-based Fortune Cinemas Inc.

Eight days after Cineplex Galaxy announced its purchase of Famous Players Theatres, Loews Cineplex Theatres and AMC Theatres announced a merger. While AMC Theatres also operates in Canada and will be ranked third behind Cineplex Galaxy Income Fund and the enlarged Empire Theatres, Cineplex Odeon and AMC Theatres remain competitors in Canada.

Cineplex Galaxy Income Fund, the owners of the chain, renamed it to 'Cineplex Entertainment on October 3, 2005.[4]

On June 29, 2007, Cineplex Entertainment announced its purchase of three Cinema City theatres in western Canada. Two theatres in Winnipeg and one in Edmonton were purchased.[5]

On February 1, 2010, Fortune Cinemas went bankrupt and Cineplex Entertainment bought some of Fortune Cinemas theatres. The Starcité Gatineau (Starcité Hull) and the Cavendish theaters were reopened as Cineplex Entertainment theatres.

Operations and brands

Cineplex's main competitors are Empire Theatres, which owns most of the theatres divested following the Cineplex/Famous Players merger, and AMC Theatres. However, as Empire is the only major exhibitor in Atlantic Canada, Cineplex and Empire continue to cooperate on select promotions, particularly free or discounted ticket offers on food products. In Quebec, Cinemas Guzzo is the company's main competitor.

On June 30, 2010, a cinema concept called UltraAVX made its public debut at two Toronto and Calgary locations. It has since been rolled out to other cities in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan . UltraAVX features screens that are considerably larger than Cineplex Odeon's traditional ones, and a Dolby Digital 7.1 surround sound system. Christie Solaria 2230 DLP Cinema projectors provide distinct digital and 3D presentations. Guests can reserve seats, which are extra wide rocking seats with high backs[6]. UltraAVX is currently available at 23 Cineplex locations across the country.

Cineplex debuted the purpose-built concept of "VIP Theatres" in 2007 in Oakville. These theatres have their own private box office, in-seat concession service, and allow guests to have alcoholic beverages in their seats (the theatre is only for guests who are 19+). Guests can reserve seats, which are extra wide rocking seats with high backs. There are currently 3 locations: two in Toronto, and one in London, Ontario.

The SilverCity locations in Oakville and CrossIron Mills feature the X-SCAPE Entertainment Centre, featuring an expanded arcade area and licensed lounge.

Cineplex Odeon Cinemas

Cineplex Odeon Cinemas is the company's most widespread banner, with 43 locations as of July 2011. The newest locations feature a wide variety of movies and some branded concessions, although most locations (even those built through the late 1990s) have traditional concessions only. Locations run the gamut from small mall multiplexes to large, ultra-modern locations.

Galaxy Cinemas

Galaxy Cinemas is the predominant brand in mid-sized markets where there has historically been little or no competition, even prior to the Cineplex-Famous Players merger. All have been built since the mid-1990s, although some were renovated from (or replaced) smaller Cineplex Odeon or Famous Players locations. These locations feature six or more screens, branded concessions and stadium-style seating, much like SilverCity. There are 30 Galaxy Cinemas locations as of July 2011.

Famous Players and component brands

Famous Players logo

The Famous Players brand encompasses a number of different banners and theatre designs, many of which were developed during the chain's suburban expansion, including several new locations in power centres in the late 1990s. The Famous Players banner (by itself) is now primarily used on the chain's so-called "traditional" theatres, mostly in older downtown or mall locations, which have small numbers of screens and traditional concessions; 10 such locations remain, most having been supplanted by larger cinemas.

The group runs 25 SilverCity (French: StarCité) cinemas, medium- to large-size locations found in medium-sized cities, suburbs, or secondary neighbourhoods. These theatres are slightly larger than, but otherwise similar to, Galaxy locations. Although originated by Famous Players, Cineplex has continued to build new SilverCity complexes since their merger.

Four larger suburban Famous Players theatres fall under the Coliseum (French: Colisée) banner, and are notable for their round façade. This was the first of the branded concepts introduced by Famous Players. These locations are usually slightly larger than SilverCity theatres, and feature additional branded concessions. Coliseums are located in Scarborough (Scarborough Town Centre), Mississauga (Square One Shopping Centre), the Montreal suburb of Kirkland, and the west end of Ottawa. (The former Coliseum in Calgary was acquired by Empire Theatres.)

Even larger are the three Colossus theatres; this format was developed in direct response to the entry of megaplex operator AMC Theatres into Canada. Colossus theatres are found in Laval, a suburb of Montreal; Vaughan, a suburb of Toronto; and Langley, a suburb of Vancouver.

Five Cineplex complexes are branded Scotiabank Theatres (French: Cinémas Banque Scotia), as a side deal to a customer-loyalty program agreement made in 2007 between Cineplex and Scotiabank. Scotiabank Theatres are located in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver.[7] Most of these were originally built by Famous Players under the Paramount banner; however that name had to be discontinued as a condition of Viacom's sale of the chain.

Cineplex Entertainment currently operates 12 IMAX screens, which, are located within twelve Scotiabank, Colossus, Coliseum, and SilverCity locations.


The Cinema City brand is used at three locations in Winnipeg and Edmonton that predominately show second-run films.

Cineplex also owns a minority interest in Alliance Cinemas, in partnership with Alliance Films. At its peak the chain had five locations; three locations have been sold or closed, while the two remaining locations have been up for sale since summer 2005.

Front Row Centre Events

In addition to showing films, Cineplex also shows a variety of alternative programming through their subsidary Front Row Centre. This includes live broadcasts of theatre performances (Stratford, National Theatre Live), operas (MET Opera), concerts, and sporting events (WWE).


Launched in 2007, SCENE is the entertainment rewards program owned by Scotiabank and Cineplex Entertainment. SCENE is free to join and offers members a 10% discount on concession purchases and enables members to earn and redeem points for movie tickets, DVDs and concessions.

SCENE members can also earn points with the SCENE ScotiaCard (debit card) and SCENE VISA card. is the #1 movie exhibition site in Canada. The website offers movie and entertainment news, showtimes, trailers and is also home of the Cineplex store, where customers can buy DVDs.

As of November 2010 customers could also download movies from the Cineplex website the same day as they are available in stores. Customers have two options: download-to-own, or video-on-demand (wherein the video is available for a 48 hour period after downloads). Currently, films are available from 20th Century Fox, Sony, Warner Bros, and Universal Pictures.

Labour relations

In the province of Quebec, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 262 represents more than 330 out of 1,100 front-of-house staff. Six theatres in total are represented: Quartier Latin, Place LaSalle, Cavendish mall, Boucherville, Beauport and Brossard DIX-30. In Quebec City, IATSE Local 523 represents all projectionists.

Cineplex operations outside Quebec are generally non-unionized.


Since early 2007, Coca-Cola has been the exclusive soft drink supplier to Cineplex theatres, and Hershey candy is available throughout the chain. Kinder Surprise eggs are available as candies in kids' combos used to promote a kids' movie. However, the branding of other concessions varies; Cineplex and Galaxy have historically been associated with Pizza Pizza and Yogen Früz, while Famous Players has served Yum Brands (including KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell), Burger King, Baskin-Robbins, and TCBY products. Both companies have had New York Fries establishments in their theatres.

Cineplex Entertainment is in the process of replacing all Baskin Robbins and stand-alone TCBY locations with Yogen Früz. TCBY will remain at Famous Players Concession Stands in theaters not served by Yogen Früz. Cineplex Entertainment has no plans to phase out any of the other branded concessions, although the former Famous Players suppliers are not expected to appear in any new theater installations.[citation needed]

See also

  • List of Cineplex Entertainment Theatres


  1. ^ The Canadian "Paramount Theatre" chain was not affiliated with the American chain with the same name.


  1. ^ "Company Profile for Cineplex Galaxy Income Fund (CA;CGX.UN)".;CGX.UN&page=quotesearch. Retrieved 2008-10-14. 
  2. ^ a b c Moore, Paul S. (Fall 2003). "Nathan L. Nathanson Introduces Canadian Odeon: Producing national competition in film exhibition". Canadian Journal of Film Studies 12 (2): 22–45. Retrieved 2010-11-11. 
  3. ^ a b c d Wise, Wyndham (May 2001). "From The Editor". Take One (Canadian Independent Film & Television Publishing Association) 10 (32): 7. ISSN 1192-5507. Retrieved 2010-11-11. 
  4. ^ "Introducing Cineplex Entertainment A New Name for Cineplex Galaxy LP" (Press release). Cineplex Entertainment. 2005-10-03. Retrieved 2010-11-11. 
  5. ^ "Cineplex adds to theatres portfolio". Toronto Star. Canadian Press (Toronto: Toronto Star). 2007-06-29. Retrieved 2010-08-31. 
  6. ^ "Cineplex Entertainment Expands UltraAVXTM in British Columbia" (Press release). Cineplex Entertainment. 2010-04-26. Retrieved 2011-07-20. 
  7. ^ "Scotiabank to put its name on Cineplex theatres". CBC News (CBC). 2007-01-24. Retrieved 2010-11-11. 

External links

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