In 1957 Nathan Taylor created the first theatre in the world&8212;the Elgin Theatre in Ottawa&8212;that was able to show two different films at the same time. He is credited as being the inventor of the multiplex. Fast forward to April 19, 1979, when Cineplex Odeon Corporation was founded by Garth Drabinsky and Taylor. The name is a merger of the words "cinema" and "complex." The doors to the first location opened in Canada at Toronto's Eaton Centre. This 18-screen multiplex theatre earned them a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's largest theatre. The enterprise gained momentum and they opened many more locations across Canada, as well as throughout the United States and Europe.
Cineplex Odeon is now operated by Cineplex Entertainment in Canada and AMC Theatres in the United States. Today, Cineplex Entertainment operates over 170 theatres across all 10 Canadian provinces with over 1,600 screens. Its headquarters are in Toronto, Ontario.
1303 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON, M4T 2Y9
Cineplex Entertainment and Scotiabank co-own a loyalty rewards program called the SCENE card. It was introduced in 2007. It's free to join and members can earn points on various purchases, including movie tickets and concessions. Members also receive ten per cent off concessions.
Special features and extras
Select theatres offer closed-captioned "CC" viewing systems. Select locations also host special events such as "Stars and Strollers," where you can enjoy a movie in a baby-friendly environment with lowered volume and dimmed lighting. A changing table is also available.
Select theatres offer "Sensory Friendly Screenings" for people with autism spectrum disorder and their families. These screenings include 2D projection, increased auditorium lighting, lower volume and smaller crowds. Theatres will also allow families to bring in outside food and take a break from screenings in a nearby "calm zone."
D-BOX offers a hyper-realistic, immersive entertainment experience in which each haptic seat moves with the action on the screen. Each seat comes with a control box in which the moviegoer can adjust the intensity of the haptic feedback by turning the motion, vibrations and textures up and down.
The origins of theatre in Canada date all the way back to 1912 when Hungarian immigrant Adolph Zukor founded the Famous Players Film Company as the American distributor for a French film production. He'd briefly gotten into the theatre business in 1903 when he loaned money to his cousin, Max Goldstein, who wanted to invest in a chain of theatres that began in Buffalo. In 1920 Famous Players merged with Canadian N.L. Nathanson's Paramount Theatre chain, which was established in 1916, and Famous Players-Canadian Corporation was born. Rather than staying in the business of launching theatres, Zukor soon got involved in film production and went on to become the president of Paramount Pictures.
In 1923, Famous Players acquired many more theatres when it bought out its rival, Allen Theatres. In 1929, the first sound system was installed, adding a new dimension to movies.
Prior to Cineplex acquiring Famous Players in 2005 for $500 million, Famous was Canada's top film exhibitor, with Cineplex-Galaxy ranking second. At one point, Famous Players had numerous drive-ins, but they were later closed in favor of modern theatres.
Odeon Theatres of Canada
Just over a decade later in January 1941, the Canadian Odeon theatre franchise was founded by Paul Nathanson, son of Nathan L. Nathanson. Their focus was to create a more modern environment with air-conditioning and guest comfort in mind. The company was sold to the British Rank Corporation in 1946, although it retained its name. At the time, it held over 100 theatres in Canada. Over the following decades, these two companies would remain rivals. Years later, in 1978, Odeon Canada was sold to the Canadian Theatres chain, forming Canadian Odeon Theatres. In 1984, it was bought out by Cineplex, forming Cineplex Odeon. The Canadian Bronfman family was a major investor in the purchase.
Galaxy Entertainment Inc.
Galaxy Entertainment Inc. was founded in 1999 by Ellis Jacob and Steven Brown. Both Jacob and Brown were former executives with the Cineplex Odeon Corp. The goal for the company was to bring big-city entertainment to mid-size Canadian communities.
In 2003, Cineplex recovered from insolvency and merged with Galaxy Entertainment. The two companies became Cineplex-Galaxy Income Trust and went public on the TSX. By 2005, the company doubled in size by acquiring its largest competitor, Famous Players, for $500 million after mass media company Viacom announced its plans to sell. A year later, Cineplex-Galaxy changed their name to Cineplex Entertainment.
In 2013, Nova Scotia-based Empire Theatres decided it was going to leave the movie screening business. Empire Theatres was formed when the Sobey family purchased the Atlantic divisions of Canadian Odeon Theatres (later known as Cineplex Odeon). The chain was a part of Empire Company Ltd., the Canadian holding company of the Sobey family that deals mostly in food retail and corporate investments.
Frank H. Sobey (May 24, 1902 - December 15, 1985) was a Canadian entrepreneur who was also the primary force behind the Sobeys grocery store chain. His father owned a meat delivery business and when Frank joined the company, he convinced him to add produce to the business, leading to the beginning of the Sobey's Food Chain, which would become the second largest retail food distribution company in Canada. In the early 1940s, Frank wanted to purchase a building for a supermarket—property that was owned by Empire Company Ltd. To be able to purchase the building, he bought the entire company. The company became the Sobey family's holding company and was privatized in 1981.
Using Empire Company Ltd, Frank purchased and renamed a local drive-in, paving the way for a chain of movie theatres known as Empire Theatres.
In 1984, Empire gained possession of select Famous Players theatres, including ones in Newfoundland and Labrador. Through the 1980s and 1990s, Empire Theatres' largest competitor was Famous Players, but with Famous Players focusing improvements elsewhere, they sold their Atlantic Canada screens to Empire in 2004. In September 2005, Empire Theatres, which owned a total of 24 theatres across the Atlantic provinces and two in Ontario, acquired 27 more movie theatres spanning from British Columbia to Ontario, with a total of 202 screens from Cineplex Galaxy, as a result of Cineplex Galaxy's acquisition of Famous Players Theatres. In December 2009, they had 49 screens equipped with digital projection and RealD 3D capabilities.
In June 2012, Empire purchased two more theatres in Kanata and Whitby, Ontario, from AMC Theatres, each with 24 screens and an IMAX auditorium.
On June 27, 2013, Empire Company announced it would not continue with their theatre operations, instead focusing on their retail and real estate operations such as Sobeys.
Cineplex bought 24 Empire Theatres -13 in Nova Scotia, 2 in Prince&8212; Edward Island, 6 in New Brunswick and 3 in Newfoundland. Empire sold its remaining 20 locations in Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia and Ontario to Landmark Cinemas. Rainbow Cinemas purchased the Elgin Mills location in Richmond Hill in October 2013.
Three Empire theatres were not sold and were closed. They include a drive-in in Nova Scotia, Empire Theatres Victoria in British Columbia and Westmount Centre Empire in Edmonton. They will be sold for real estate.
The Richmond Hill Elgin Mills location was sold to Rainbow Cinemas in October 2013.
There are seven Scotiabank Theatres across Canada, all owned by Cineplex. Previously known as Paramount Theatre, the Toronto Scotiabank Theatre is located in the Entertainment District of downtown Toronto at the RioCan Hall. It opened in 1999 with 14 screens and 4500 seats. Scotiabank Theatre also introduced Toronto's first 3D IMAX screen. The other Scotiabank Theatres are located in Edmonton, Vancouver, St. John's, Saskatoon (which includes a VIP theatre), Halifax and Chinook.
Located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Festival Cinemas was founded in 1978. With three locations (Park Theatre, Fifth Avenue Cinemas and the Ridge Theatre) their goal was to showcase Canadian specialty art and high quality films, whereas other theatres focused on Hollywood films. Leonard Schein acquired the Ridge in Kitsilano on March 30, 1978. He was drawn to the location because it was near the University of British Columbia—college-aged students being an important part of his target audience. In 1980, Leonard bought the Vancouver East Cinema, the Park, the Varsity, the Starlight, and finally, Fifth Avenue Cinemas. After selling them all in 2001, he decided to re-purchase the Park. The Vancouver East Cinema, the Varsity and the Starlight were demolished to make way for supermarkets and condominiums. In 2013 it was announced that their Vancouver location, the Ridge Theatre, would also be turned into a condominium complex. Shortly after, the remaining two theatres (Fifth Avenue Cinemas and Park Theatre) were sold to Cineplex Entertainment. After 35 years, president of Festival Cinemas Leonard Schein and owner Tom Lightburn decided to retire from the movie theatre business.
Cinema City is a theatre company that operated two theatres in Canada: Cinema City Movies 12 in Edmonton and Cinema City Northgate in Winnipeg.
In 2012, it was announced that Cinema City would undergo a huge transformation after becoming part of the Cineplex chain. Cineplex Entertainment's $4.5 million renovation would transform Winnipeg's 12 existing rooms into eight traditional rooms and three VIP cinemas. The concession stands also underwent an overhaul, with foods such as burgers and fries. VIP offerings include calamari and alcohol. Additional options include TCBY frozen yogurt, Outtakes and Pizza Pizza.