New eight-screen complex in the works

Daniel MacEachern
Published on January 28, 2012

The long lineups for tickets and snacks at peak times at the Avalon Mall's movie theatre haven't gone unnoticed.

Empire Theatres - which owns the Avalon Mall's 12-screen location, as well as the theatre in the Mount Pearl Shopping Centre, among its 50 theatres across Canada - announced Thursday it would be opening a new eight-screen theatre in St. John's next year, partly because demand in Newfoundland and Labrador is so high, according to the company's vice-president of media and studio relations.

"It's a very busy theatre, and it's certainly within our Top 5 in our whole fleet of theatres. We couldn't be more pleased with that volume, and thus why we know that there's potential to add another location in the city," said Dean Leland from Halifax, where Empire Theatres is headquartered. "We've been looking for quite a while within that whole St. John's market to find a new location that would be separate and apart from Avalon and our one in Mount Pearl to offer a venue in a different part of the city."

Leland wouldn't disclose how much the new complex - planned for Field Power Centre on Torbay Road - will cost, other than calling it a "significant investment." Construction and opening dates are likewise broad, with the company saying only that it expects to begin construction some time this year and open in 2013, as planning is still in the early stages. Tom Hann, chairman of St. John's city council's planning commission, confirmed to The Telegram the city has yet to receive a proposal from Empire.

"We're still working with developers and that sort of thing and then it'll go to tender, and then we'll figure out when the feasible time is to start and then from that we can determine an opening date, but it's all too premature at this point."

One of the screens in the new theatre will be in an "Empire Extra" auditorium - a proprietary system with a larger, wrap-around screen; wider, high-back leather rocker seats; and a custom sound system. That theatre will also have reserved seating; online ticket buyers will be able to select their seats on map of the auditorium.

"We get very specific on what type of film goes in that auditorium to maximize the sound component of the whole thing."

Empire has Empire Extra auditoriums in five locations across Canada, with an extra charge of $2 per ticket in those theatres. Movies shown in 3D are an extra $3 per ticket. Twitter: TelegramDaniel