Incoming theatre owners consider expansion

Daniel
Daniel MacEachern
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Cineplex to implement its Scene loyalty program

Three Empire Theatres cinemas, including this one at the Avalon Mall in St. John’s, have been sold to Cineplex. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

The incoming owners of several movie theatres in Newfoundland say expansion in the province is possible.

Last week, Cineplex announced it had bought most of Empire Theatres’ 24 movie theatres in Atlantic Canada, including all three in Newfoundland — in St. John’s, Mount Pearl and Corner Brook. The deal also includes the Empire Theatres location currently under construction on Torbay Road.

While the deal is pending, the theatres remain under Empire operation. Pat Marshall, vice-president of communications and investor relations, told the Telegram on Wednesday that The deal is expected to close within 60 days.

“The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals, obviously, and review by the Competition Bureau. We are submitting an advanced-ruling certificate with the commissioner of competition,” she said.

 

Employees to be kept on

Marshall said all of the theatres’ 825 employees in Atlantic Canada will be kept on, but once the purchase is complete, there will be changes to the day-to-day operations.

“In the short term, until closing, nothing will change, because we’re not operating them until the transaction closes,” she said. “Once the transaction closes, we will add a number of new initiatives to the community, which I think people will enjoy.”

Cineplex will bring its Scene loyalty program to the province — the sixth-largest consumer loyalty program in the country, noted Marshall — and discounted movies on Tuesdays. Concession offerings will also probably expand, he said.

“Based on our experience and review in the past, we tend to offer more of a food court kind of offering in our theatres, as opposed to more concession core items, so I think you might see some expansion there,” she said.

“And then we’ll look to add a number of our other premium offerings, such as Ultra AVX, which is our large-format system, which is that screens extend wall-to-wall, and we offer reserved seating.”

Cineplex may look at expanding into other areas, she said.

“It certainly is a potential. We really need to get into the area and see how the theatres operate and what is available to us and what might make sense and then go from there. Over the years we’ve continued to grow by an average of two to three new theatres a year, so it wouldn’t be surprising if there was something there.”

Empire Theatres spokesman Andrew Walker said the company — which owns Sobeys grocery stores as well — wanted to focus on its food operations.

“It’s in keeping with the strategic direction of Empire to focus its resources on food retailing through Sobeys and related real estate with Crombie REIT,” said Walker.

 

dmaceachern@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelegramDaniel

Organizations: Empire Theatres, Competition Bureau, Sobeys

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Atlantic Canada, Mount Pearl Corner Brook

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Recent comments

  • gary J
    July 05, 2013 - 22:09

    I do hope things improve. Besides interminable line-ups there was no ice in the drinks, the popcorn was hard and dry and you could hear the sound from the movie next store bleed through. Worst movie experience ever and it only cost me $30 for the privilege.

  • Flloyd
    July 04, 2013 - 13:29

    Come to Conception Bay South, Cineplex! You'll attract patrons from a number of the communities CBS and west, I guarantee. Consider the Gateway retail hotseat in Kelligrews, perhaps!

  • Movie Max
    July 04, 2013 - 09:29

    The big question that everyone wants answered, will Empire gift cards still work, and until when?

    • Daniel MacEachern
      July 04, 2013 - 11:59

      Cineplex will honour Empire gift cards, passes, etc., until six months after the transaction goes through.